Friday, April 13, 2018

In Praise of Porridge

Millet flour porridges from Senegal:
 rouy (smooth infant porridge) and fondé (rolled pellets and milk).
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
It is fascinating to see how universal the humble porridge (grains that are boiled and/or simmered) is.  To illustrate the point, here are a variety of links about porridges from different cultures and times.   Most involve recipes for recreating them in your kitchen.

A blog called Pass the Garum featured a redaction, or modern conversion, of a porridge recipe attributed to the Carthaginians that can be made from semolina.  A Roman version may be found here. (Pass the Garum is in the process of moving, so these links to the old blog are here courtesy of the Wayback Machine.)

The Ribe Viking Center's food page provides a plausible recipe for Viking-style porridge here.  It uses millet, though barley would be plausible as well.

The Gode Cookery page serves up this late medieval barley porridge, or "gruel", as it was called at the time.  This 17th century recipe, also from the Gode Cookery site, is, except for the rose-water flavoring, very close to modern non-instant oatmeal.  

Plimoth Plantation provides us with an Amerind recipe for a maize porridge called "nasaump" here.  The Food Timeline notes that porridges made with maize, quinoa, amaranth, and other New World grains were eaten in Mesoamerica by the Aztecs and other peoples, but does not provide a recipe.  The Food Timeline's write-up about Mesoamerican porridge and other foods may be found here.

Porridges are eaten in Asia too, where they are typically rice-based.  The Chinese version is sometimes called congee. Here is a recipe for a similar, savory porridge, called arroz caldo, that is eaten in the Philippines.  Africa also has its porridges, as shown in the picture above featuring two different porridge types from Senegal.

Finally, Wikipedia has a page dedicated to listing porridges from all over the world, with their local names and a brief description of how they are made.  It probably is not complete, but it gives a good idea of how universal the concept of eating stewed grains is.  You can find that page here.

Most modern Western porridges are sweet, but savory porridges have been common throughout history.  There seems to be an attempt to make them popular again today, if this page of savory porridge recipes from the Huffington Post is any indication.  If I attempt to make such a recipe, modern or otherwise, I will blog about it here.

No comments:

Post a Comment