The Golden Spurtle
It’s not long now until the 29th annual World Porridge Making Championships, the Golden Spurtle, in the Highland village of Carrbridge. On 8th October, 30 cooks from around the world will be competing to make the best porridge using only three ingredients – oatmeal, water and salt. The oatmeal is old-fashioned: only pinhead, coarse, medium or fine oatmeal is allowed and no microwaves.
To add to the fun, there’s a specialty porridge prize. This is a separate creative round, where oatmeal can be combined with any ingredients. The competition is judged by chef Neil Mugg (ex-Gleneagles), Colin Bussey, (Consultant Chef at Turnberry Hotel) and Kirsten Gilmour (of The Mountain Cafe Cairngorms) and farmer Richard Jones. The coveted Golden Spurtle is taken seriously, and held in high esteem.
I’m delighted to be competing, and have been practising my stovetop technique. The important thing is to stir clockwise to keep the devil out. Left-handed porridge making has historically been frowned upon - there is as much tradition around porridge as another oat-based Scottish dish, haggis. In the past, many homes had a porridge drawer in the kitchen table, a dedicated drawer that porridge was poured in to set and then sliced up for later consumption – perhaps this is where flapjacks originated.
There’s something poetic about stirring porridge and watching it thicken up, and then comes the joy of eating it. It’s sustaining and an excellent source of energy if you have a busy lifestyle. It may help lower cholesterol. And it’s cheap.
My entry is a ‘Fitness Studio Lunch’ for two – a regular meal for me and my Personal Training assistant, Coco the fitness pug. Yes, porridge is health food for dogs too. Coco gets a small portion of cooled porridge for her lunch (with a dried sprat on top), from my porridge pot. Whilst I enjoy my specialty pudding-like porridge with cinnamon, hemp seeds and cranberries floated on coconut milk. Porridge truly is life-enhancing.
You can find all the competition information plus many speciality porridge recipes at www.goldenspurtle.com