Why porridge? Porridge is universal.
Studying and eating porridge is a great way to explore science, food culture, and history around the globe. Because of the great variety of (agri)cultures around the world, there is much to be learned about people, places, and plants from their porridge expression.
What is porridge?
The word means different things to different people. We want to expand what you consider porridge beyond the grains that you eat most often, whether it be oats, corn, rice, or something else. Defining porridge can be a little mushy, but we believe that porridge is:
Glop – It is cohesive, meany it is usually held together with starchy liquid. In other words, it isn’t a salad with individual grains. Grain + Liquid + Heat = Porridge.
Mostly grain-based, mostly starchy – Some porridges are made from starchy vegetables, such as potato or cassava, instead of grains. Pulses, such as beans or lentils, yield mush that is cheap, nutritious, and capable of fueling civilizations, but they are not our focus.
Usually hot and usually in a bowl – It’s comforting.
A base for other foods – There is no perfect food, but porridge is the perfect canvas. Be creative!
Porridge is the mushy sustenance of civilization.
Grain agriculture motivated settlement across the globe by providing a durable, reliable source of food. In turn, this led to written language, urbanization, commerce, and all things good and evil that have stemmed from complex society. Grains fed armies and encouraged empires to fight for land. Grains let the human population explode, and porridge is the most basic way to consume a grain: water, heat, starch.
Within the rich, diverse histories of food in every culture, almost everyone eats porridge: it is an egalitarian food, enjoyed cooked over a fire in the woods, or served on delicate ceramics. Porridge is cheap, utilitarian, and a comforting family tradition. It is often the first food humans consume after their mother’s milk, and the twilight supper of the elderly and the sick.
Porridge is our history and heritage. With porridge today, we hope to honor the past and fuel the future. There is pleasure derived from honest labor and ingredients, a connection with land and place. Porridge is the everyday food of everyday people.