Please porridge hot Please porridge cold 

But just give it up if it's nine days old

By Glenda Bartosh

I was visiting with Pat Muir at Stew and Athana’s annual Christmas bash when it struck me how wonderfully bright and vibrant she is. In all regards — physically, mentally, emotionally — Stew’s mom is a model for aging gracefully, a fact I’m sure Jim Watts will attest to.

Sure I’d had a sip or two of port, and the candlelight was golden and low, but I’m positive neither had anything to do with me asking her, “Pat, what’s your secret?” She looked me square in the eyes, hers bright and twinkling, and laughed. “Porridge!” she declared.

I swore my grandpa, who, except for his final year, remained robust until he died at age 91, virtually lived on porridge, starting each day with cooked oats, except Sundays when he made hotcakes. And our new Minister of State for ActNow BC, Gordon Hogg, includes porridge as part of his new fitness regime.

Tom Barratt is a big porridge eater, buying steel cut oats at Caper’s before it spread beyond its original location in West Van, and teaching me the subtlety of adding currants, not raisins, which are too sweet.

At the mention of porridge, Jan Gavin, who just called from her new home in England, promptly declared it the best fuel for skiing. It’s good for your heart and good for your bowels and lasts all day, she pointed out, before launching into a wonderful tale about Bruce Charters’ dad — “a man the size of a grasshopper” — who’d lived all his life on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

It was the early ’70s and Janine and her then-husband, Tom, were off to do the West Coast Trail and had packed all sorts of specialty backpacking foods one would dutifully pack in those days.

Bruce had put them in touch with his dad, who explained that when he and his friends walked the trail, which they’d done more than once, they never took anything but a pocketful of porridge — dry form, of course — which they would nibble on, followed by a swig of water.

Every time they got hungry, they’d sip a bit more water and the porridge would swell a little more in their bellies, pushing hunger pangs away and propelling them onwards.

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