I have always had a thing for porridge. All through my childhood, my Mother used to make it on a morning in an enormous stainless steel pan with a missing handle. She would use Scottish oats with a pinch of salt, and cook it until it was gloriously thick.
My favourite topping was golden syrup. A massive tablespoon of the stuff. I used to hold the spoon from on high, and watch, captivated, as is made its way to the bowl in a long, sticky, amber trickle. The last thing I’d see in a morning before heading out of the house was the kitchen gently glowing in the early morning sun, the porridge pan filled with water and set by the sink, and four plastic bowls off different colours stacked in a gluey pile.
Porridge wasn’t only for home. I would eat porridge at my best friend’s house too. She lived on a farm so the milk for the porridge would always come straight from the churn, and instead of golden syrup, we would add spoonfuls of soft brown sugar. Second helpings weren’t unusual.
My passion for hot oats didn’t wane when I became anorexic, but it was a forbidden food and wasn’t touched again for at least a decade due to irrational fears.
Recently however, porridge has made a comeback. I cook it on the stove and eat it topped with brown sugar and cinnamon. I used to speed through preparing my breakfast, but you can’t really rush good porridge. You have to stand at the stove, watching and stirring, being careful that it doesn’t attach itself to the bottom of the pan. Introducing porridge into my daily routine has enabled me to have a calmer start to the day. I take time to breathe while I stand stirring, and I don’t bolt it down once it’s done.
Now, I’m not going to lie. To change from my usual breakfast routine of branflakes didn’t come without its large helping of intrusive, anxious thoughts. One insanely irrational idea which upset me was that if I ate porridge my face would change shape within days. But I’ve worked through these thoughts, one by one, and am relishing being able to rekindle my relationship with a meal that gives me so much pleasure.