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"The Porridge Controversy " Topic

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228 hits since 2 Aug 2017
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Tango0102 Aug 2017 12:31 p.m. PST

How breakfast's least offensive option could stir up trouble

"We need to talk about porridge. Just the name conjures up visions of a sometimes-gluey, bland substance glopping into bowls—yes, glopping. It's a legitimate contender for the least offensive breakfast food out there. It's filling, it's wholesome, and it's what your peasant great-grandparents ate a hundred years ago. While porridge has recently undergone something of a makeover—with trendy overnight oats recipes popping up and entire concept restaurants in Manhattan and London now devoted to oatmeal—it can't quite escape its boring, staid reputation.

A century ago, however, porridge was vastly controversial. As historian Ellen Ross details in her book Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London, porridge was at the center of battles between the working poor of late-nineteenth century London and the middle-class social reformers who sought to uplift them, the forerunners of the settlement house movement in the United States. Like it is now, porridge was considered cheap and nutritious, a thrifty, wholesome alternative to the bread and potatoes that most working-class families ate for breakfast. But the mothers and wives of London's East End deeply resented the intrusion into their daily lives and habits that porridge—mushy, bland, institutional—represented, especially when it came with the implicit assumption, on the part of social workers and other well-meaning agents of reform, that the poor squandered their wages on food they couldn't afford…"
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Old Wolfman04 Aug 2017 6:36 a.m. PST

Never ate it myself.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 10:05 a.m. PST

Honestly, I think maybe we think we're too good for porridge. It is, as mentioned, economical, healthy, and convenient. But if you make yourself porridge you feel like you missed out on a "proper" breakfast or lunch. But a lot of times we're eating stuff that isn't all that great anyway because we're in a hurry. We spend more and it's not as healthy, but at least we didn't have porridge.

You'd think someone would be pushing for more porridge consumption. It's easier on the environment…

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