Porridge Oats, Highlands

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Now that the glossies have made everyone aware of the importance of eating foods with a low GI index, so that we all don't get fat and die, porridge is all of a sudden sexy and hip. But then, as the hardy folk of Scotland will tell you, it always was.

Porridge's reinvention is more than timely, particularly while its native Scotland toils away at the summit of the world heart disease league. In practice, the roll and square sausage, or indeed some corn, wheat and honey confection may be filling more Scots up at breakfast times, but porridge is as Scottish as glorious failure and is yet another food to be shrouding in the tartan rug of traditionalism.

"It should be made with water and a pinch o' salt", so says the craggy patriot, keeping a Calvinistic watch over those ne'er-do-wells who dare to prepare porridge oats in milk, or sweeten it with honey or sugar. Porridge’s role in Scotland's cultural identity dates back centuries. Scotland was not a nation that cultivated every acre of land with wheat; the oat, high in fibre and packed with complex carbohydrates that fuelled the Scots for hours, was the food of the farmer and soldier alike.

The misty eyed sentimentalism of the Scottish soldier snacking on oats from his sporran while on the march endures, but porridge oats could not have a more contemporary appeal. The truth is, porridge oats take to anything. Porridge oats gladly accept fruit and nuts; chopped banana, sultanas and walnuts make a great bespoke breakfast, while adding any berry to the bowl will expunge any uncomfortable connotations of Oliver Twist's gruel, or Norman Stanley Fletcher's breakfasts in the big house.

But while tartan-shawled traditionalists and the honey 'n' fruit brigade may clash on the culinary fault-lines of how porridge should be prepared, all privately hope to share the granite physique and fettle of the lantern-jawed Scott's Porage Oats Man. Truly the nemesis of Honey Monsters everywhere.

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Irish Catholic Uprising - 1641, Battle of Trafalgar - 1805, First Women Peers Enter Lords - 1958, 1st British Nuclear Powered Sub launched - 1960, The Aberfan Disaster - 1966
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