On the trail of the superfood called porridge

Dr Samuel Johnson may have been little disparaging of the Scots when he described oats as “’a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people,’ but it appears the laugh’s on him.

Photograph by: Stewart Cunningham

More than 260 years after the good doctor dismissed the essential ingredient of porridge as little more than animal feed it is now universally accepted as a genuine superfood.

Numerous scientific and medical studies over the years have shown oatmeal to be packed with essential vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants.

A daily dose of porridge is not only tasty and warming on a cold morning but has also been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels, aid with digestion and improve metabolism. Indeed, it has been credited with helping to prevent heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. It also aids stress relief and encourages healthy skin, hair and nails.

For centuries porridge has been a staple rather than a stable diet of many Scots and recipes for making the best porridge are almost as numerous as there are clans. However the humble breakfast is no longer just something your granny used to make, it’s haute cuisine!

Now, across Scotland, hotels, restaurants and guest houses find themselves competing to produce the most tasty and appetising porridge or oatmeal dish suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

From Selkirk in the Borders to Kirkwall in Orkney porridge is on the menu at some of Scotland’s top eateries specialising in turning cereal into a culinary art form. In years gone by porridge made with water and a little salt was the extent to which most people aspired now you’re just as likely to find apricots and toasted pecans, strawberries and champagne or hazelnut butter, or even smoked haddock added to the mix.

  • Full feature in Issue No.13

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