I was woken up this morning by my tonsils. Furious, they were - furious and red and angry. But I can't be that ill because I'm hungry for my breakfast. Alas, my usual breakfasts - either museli or toast - are not exactly fun on a raw tonsil.
So I reached for my tin of oatmeal, just the thing for an empty tummy and a hurty throat.
I'm quite evangelical about oatmeals and porridges. I spent 3 months eating porridge at least once a day when I was 19, working for Raleigh International in Namibia. At first I couldn't believe how digusting it was, hated the sight of it, dreaded having to eat it every day. But then I developed a sort of Stockholm syndrome about it - I started to think that porridge was the best thing ever.
Then, after another 9 weeks, I hated it again.
I didn't eat it for years, couldn't stand the sight of it. But in the last few years, whenever the chips are down, I have started to yearn for porridge. These days, only John McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal will do. The most flavoursome, with none of the dusty yak of rolled oats. But, it's one for sick days and weekends only, as it takes half an hour to make. The other problem is that what all porridge and oatmeal really loves to do is stick to the bottom of the pan and, if possible, burn, so a good stir every few minutes is also required. You could always make it in a non-stick pan but for some reason, I feel like that's cheating.
Into four parts boiling water, pour one part oatmeal (I use an espresso cup as a measurement - it swells in the water so that's all you need for one person, I find.)
Cook briskly until it starts to thicken up and then turn down the heat and simmer for 30 mins. I always find that I need to add more water along the way.
I've never really thought of oatmeal or porridge as any kind of health-giving, angelic food, to be eaten in a bracing wind, seasoned only with salt - I have always seen it as simply a warm vehicle for butter, sugar, honey, jam, cream, maple syrup or anything else fatty or sugary I've got to hand. And today is no different, topped with a splodge of Damson jam to lift my spirits. My throat feels better already.