Home Made Special: Historical Porridge

In a shameless ploy to get Baby Chino’s History and Live some attention, I agreed to have him make me breakfast in bed. Aren’t I nice?

This morning we were travelling back in space and time to Ancient Greece, through the tried and true portal of porridge. According to the authors of The Classical Cookbook ancient greek women who knew about herbs could use this porridge, or kykeon, for dangerous purposes – like sending men to sleep, or worse!

It is likely a breach of copyright for me to post the actual recipe, so the things that went into this dish are: semolina (soaked, drained), ricotta cheese, honey and some egg. The combination of those ingredients in quantities approximating 1 : 3: 1/2 : 1/2 grams, and heated to almost boiling point, looked like this:

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I had an immediate insight into how the Athenians built the Parthenon, how Pythagoras birthed his theorem and how Sappho had the strength to articulate her passionate poetry: they were all essentially fuelled by cake. I could not contain my delight at having an excuse to eat such a thick, creamy batter for breakfast. There was a pleasing grittiness to this pale, slightly cheesy mass. A hint of honey transported me to the Elysian fields; as if I were lightly traipsing through them, sunlight reflecting dazzlingly off the golden fleece I’d be wearing, as well as off my perfect Grecian curls. That was all in the first mouthful. Subsequent mouthfuls became more and more laborious; indeed, Heracles would have been proud of me for eventually finishing such a task. It was exhausting, luckily I was already in bed so I could comfortably lapse into a food coma. Baby Chino thus truly succeeded in channelling those Ancient Greeks, or at least the women who knew about sleep herbs.

I would not recommend this as an every day food, at least not for anyone who wouldn’t use the subsequent energy to throw a discus or run a marathon.

Solid Porridge, Greece!

– MM

Footscray Milking Station: Porridge(?) That Needs To Be Put Out To Pasture

I woke up in a state of nervous excitement this morning. No, it was not my wedding day, not even my birthday – today was to be my first porridge review – eeep! While I am a major proponent of muesli in all of its cold glory, I have recently been looking forward to the turning of the seasons so that I would have an excuse to order and review the (hopefully) fancy cafe version of muesli’s hot, steamy cousin – porridge.

For this momentous occasion I ventured out West to visit Footscray Milking Station, a cafe nestled amongst the residences at the corner of the leafy Bunbury and Cowper Streets. My sole rationale for going there was that the name seemed quaint and I wanted to feel farmy – and that my intuition told me this would be a place that knows how to treat oats. Lucky for me I don’t often rely on my intuition, but more on that later. Footscray Milking Station has a surprisingly dark exterior serving only to accentuate the cheeriness of the green front door. The interior has a cosy rural feel imparted by a light brick wall, unadorned except for milk vats perched upon wooden shelves. Additionally, the small, square windows closed the place in creating a sense of homely warmth in contrast to the overcast morning outside.

It was to the strains of slow, grand 60s pop music that I contentedly examined the menu. I’ll admit that I felt a slight regret as I lingered on, and then passed over, the muesli on offer. Instead I elected  for:

Semolina porridge with rhubarb and pear compote

It is only on transcribing the menu here right now that I have come to realise that what I ordered was semolina porridge, and that at the time my glucose-starved brain could only equate the word porridge with oats and thought that semolina was just an adjective! Well, I had no idea and so the vitriol I had planned to spew in the coming paragraph now feels hollow. How disappointing! Here is what emerged:

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Safe to say, I was expecting a warm bowl of gloopy oats in milk and so was completely baffled when this bizarre dish came out. It was awful. In retrospect I should have twigged when I was saying things like “how did they manage to obliterate the oats so completely?” that this was because there were no oats to begin with. Here, I was going to snarkily support the equally oblivious Lady Marmalade’s  comment that it had the texture of wallpaper glue. It did, but I think that might be intrinsic to semolina as a food. The Milking Station could have saved the dish with the tart magnificence that is rhubarb, however the compote was a sparse, inadequate distraction from the nightmare I had been served. If only I had realised what semolina was in time (and not almost 8 hours later)! This heavy pâté that was masquerading as “porridge” did fill me up, but not in a good way – I was determined to eat morning tea as soon as I got home so as to quickly erase this food memory.

Seeing as this post now has nothing to do with oats, I’ll go even further off track and share the pancakes that were ordered by Baby Chino – who doesn’t like cereal or eggs and so is rather restricted when we go out to breakfast:

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It is not just due to the questionable quality of my photography that these look like burnt pork medallions. Baby Chino reported that he has had pikelets bigger than these and that the money to pancake ratio left much to be desired. We were both disappointed this morning, it seems.

It was due to mainly my own ignorance that I had a terrible breakfast at Footscray Milking Station. I cannot comment on the quality of the semolina porridge as for all I know it is supposed to taste like floury, uncooked dough. All I can say is that I will never order it again especially as I now associate it with broken dreams and injured pride.

I suppose I should be happy that this doesn’t count as my first true porridge review.

(Not even close to) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

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