World Porridge Day

Submitted by edg on Wed, 5 Oct '11 9.04am

After haggis, oats is perhaps one of the food groups most often associated with the traditional scottish diet.

Dr Johnson disparaged oats as "a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people", to which Lord Elibank is said to have famously responded (according to Johnson's biographer James Boswell): "Yes, and where else will you see such horses and such men?"

Porridge has long been a staple of the Scottish diet. Families stored cold porridge in a drawer from which they would slice as needed.

Students from Edinburgh University as late as the 1890s were given extended weekends to return to the countryside to tend to their oat crops (their food supply while studying) in what were called Meal Mondays.

Today, and on 10/10 every year, World Porridge Day marks this traditional meal with people sharing  a hearty porridge breakfast, while raising thousands of pounds for the Mary's Meals charity to feed hungry children around the world.

The charity has teamed up with the Highland village of Carrbridge - home to the World Porridge Making Championships which takes place on Sunday, October 9.

In Malawi, for just £6.15, Mary's Meals is able to provide a daily mug of porridge to a child for a whole school year. By providing a daily meal in a place of education, chronically poor children are attracted to the classroom where they can gain a basic education that provides an escape route from poverty.

First Minister Alex Salmond has been keen to promote Scotland's "oat cuisine", serving porridge to his cabinet at Bute House cooked by current World Porridge Making Champion, Neal Robertson, from Auchtermuchty.

According to the First Minister, "There's no better way to start a busy day than with a bowl of porridge".

Shona Rankin, organiser of the 2011 Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championships, says:

"The draw of the perfect bowl of porridge, called the 'Chief of Scotia's food' by Robert Burns, has attracted competitors from the USA, Sweden, Ireland England and Scotland to the 18th World Porridge Making Championships. The village throws open its doors to welcome competitors and spectators as fifteen competitors battle it out to carry off the coveted Golden Spurtle Trophy."

The charity

Mary's Meals works in 16 of the poorest countries in the world, providing daily school meals for over 557,000 of the neediest children.The first World Porridge Day took place in October 2009 at the suggestion of the organisers of the World Porridge Making Championships, an international competition in Carrbridge, Scotland. They wanted to support Mary's Meals because of the role that a maize-based porridge (called likuni phala) plays in Malawi, where children receive a nutritious mug every day at Mary's Meals school projects.