When I think of porridge, only a few things come to mind: Goldilocks, bears, poverty, and prison. Goldilocks and the Bears probably don't need much of an explanation, as I'm sure many of our first times even hearing the word was in the children's story. Poverty... well for some reason I've always associated having to heat porridge with having two parents employed in the chimney sweeping industry (a viewpoint I'm sure is ignorant, but fun nonetheless). As for associating porridge with prison, well it has less to do with actual experience (as I've never had the pleasure of eating prison porridge) as much as it has to do with my strange predilection for 1970's era British Sitcoms.
So when I stumbled across Grace Instant Cornmeal Porridge at my local supermarket, I knew I had to try it. To the best of my knowledge, I've never consumed porridge. I've had gruel, grits, oatmeal, and pudding, but never this particular type of mush. Besides, the bright yellow container and handy on-the-go style packaging just screamed out to me.
Normally, when I bring something like this home and begin scrutinizing it, I find all sorts of weird things that start to turn me off to the food before I can even try it. This time, there's not much to dissuade me from eating it. Aside from it being a product of Jamaica, which surprised me due to my associating between porridge and Richard Beckinsale, everything else on the container is straightforward. It's ready after steeping in boiling water in 5 minutes, packed with vitamins and minerals, good for breakfast on the go, and shouldn't need additional milk or sugar to enjoy. I threw a pot of water on the stove and waited patiently for it to boil.
Once the perfect rolling boil is achieved, I peel back the foil top
halfway. Before I even know what hit me, I can actually taste it. You
know what happens when you open Kool Aid or Crystal Light and some of
the particles shoot out into the air? When you breathe deeply, you can
taste the cherries in the back of your throat. Well this is a lot like
that, except I taste salty cornbread instead. Not an entirely
unpleasant experience, just an unexpected one. I pour the boiling water
into the cup, which looks like it's filled with sand, stir vigorously (as per the instructions), and let it sit
for five minutes. While I'm letting it settle, I hope that it becomes a
little thicker. Just before I close the lid, the "porridge" looks more
like hot orange juice than anything else.
Five minutes later, I peel open the top and let out a sigh when I
notice it's the consistency of warm butter. I stir it up again and
raise a heaping spoonful to my mouth. The consistency of porridge is
unlike anything I've had before: runnier than oatmeal and grits but
thicker and grittier than soup. The most interesting part of it all is
the strange way the flavors present themselves. At first, all I can
taste is the cornmeal, like someone left some cornbread out in a
monsoon and spread it across my tongue. Then, the milky-sugar taste
kicks in and overwhelms my mouth. Just before it fades out, a light
buttery flavor dances across my tongue and I take another bite. After
eating half the container, I still can't decide if I like this or not.
I know I don't like the consistency, but the way the flavors play with
one another keeps me coming back until I feel like I'm going to get a
Who should eat this: Bears, little girls lost in the woods, people with a hankering for confusion.
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