Summer Porridge and Irish Memories
When people ask me what I like about food, my first answer is always 'the behind the scenes'. Food is synonym of territory, places and people, thus memories. Although globalisation has made available everything everywhere, it is undeniable that each of us links certain perfumes and flavours to specific moments and people. In fact, whenever I have porridge, I think of Ireland.
Oatmeal and porridge (which can be prepared with any cereal) had stopped being popular for a period, in fact my mum sees them as 'the sort of breakfast old people are generally advised to have', but luckily they have come back in fashion! When I told her I have oatmeal almost every morning, I think she was a bit surprised. Anyway, I love it! I love its creamy texture, the fact that it is not sweet and the idea it is really good for me. Besides, it makes me think of my grandmother. I can envision her sitting in the breakfast room, armed with her thousands of tablets, the steel pot of boiling tea kept warm by a hand-knitted tea-cosy, enjoying that small daily pleasure while looking out of the window, trying to spot the fox that prowls in her neighbourhood or the several magpies that visit her back garden in seek of food every day.
What a view her garden is. A nicely kept lawn surrounded by flower beds and a small compost area at the back, where I used to play as a child (incredible how children find beauty in the most strange places...don't you think?).
When I was a wild teenager, going to Ireland stopped being fun for me, as I did not have the same freedom I have always had at home and have always been extremely independent (consider that Venice is a super safe city, while Dublin is huge and not exactly the same). But now I miss it, and I have come to appreciate many aspects of that island and of the Irish. First of all, the love for nature and the breathtaking landscapes. But not just this, the people are so... friendly! Warm people who will always open their house and invite you over, like Neapolitans, always offering you a cup of tea and a scone with raspberry jam.
Then I admire how much arts and culture are supported. One would think in Italy it were the same, but it is not like this... in Italy unfortunately we have a hideous political caste system that like King Midas, spoils everything. The Veneto region, for example, is full of industrial sheds and factories, whereas with regard to Venice... you all know how bad the situation the lagoon is experiencing with this ongoing passage of cruise-ships that has made us one of the most polluted cities in Europe and is literally eating the coasts (18 metres gone in less than 6 years... a catastrophe).
So, when I think of Ireland... I think of bright green meadows, lilies and shamrocks. I think of Sandymount Strand, of the two smokestacks of the Poolbeg Generating Station that my mother calls lollipop sticks due to their white and red stripes, and I think of fairies and magic. I don't know if I ever told you, but there is quite an age gap between me and my husband and I was a bit fearful the first time I took him to meet my family. But their warmth and affection proved me wrong, as every single one of them treats him like a son/brother/friend. They know he loves me and that, although we argue all the time and have huge rows, he makes me happy, and that's all that matters to them. Besides, Vittorio is much easier than me and is enthusiastic about everything. Especially about Guinness and whisky (his favourite: Green Spot).
Then, we love visiting farmers markets and parks. We go in and out museums (all free of charge), buy lots of books and take our time at Saint Stephen's Green, Merrion Square or Herbert Park, just lazing about... and when we feel cold, we go to a bar and warm up with a nice 'cuppa'. Plus, we always visit the National Gallery, with its Caravaggio and... Venice crowning the Lion of saint Mark's depicted by Domenico Tintoretto.
We don't usually have enough time to feel homesick, but to joke we say that if it ever happened, we could just go in front of the river called Grand Canal (which reminds us of our Venetian Canal Grande) and have a nibble at our Venetian friend's place called Piglet.
But for the time being, we can only dream about Ireland (this year I think we'll only be able to go in October, hopefully for my birthday)... so today I'm sharing a recipe for a cold (trust me) summer porridge. Healthy, sugar-free, delicious and creamy to my liking. I caramelised thin wedges of flat peaches and cherries in a pan with some water and chestnut honey (use any honey you like, as chestnut is very balsamic and not for everyone), then I simmered old-fashioned rolled oats and chia seeds in almond milk and topped everything with chocolate chips and almond flakes. I left the oatmeal in the fridge overnight and had it the following morning with extra milk... looking out my window and imagining all the beautiful scenes I have just described.
And you? What is your relationship with oatmeal/porridge? I'm super curious to know! Meanwhile,I wish you a happy Sunday and will be back soon...
COLD PORRIDGE WITH BAKED FRUIT, CHOCOLATE, ALMONDS AND HONEY
80 gr rolled oats
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 flat peaches
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp chocolate chips
1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 Tbsp almond flakes
1. Wash cherries and peaches. Peel the skin of the peaches, then cut into wedges. Slice cherries in half, remove pitch and keep aside.
2. Heat a pan with some water and when it starts to boil, add the fruit and lower the heat. Add a Tbsp of honey and stir continuously. If needed, add extra water. Simmer for about 6 minutes, or until the fruit becomes caramelised. When ready keep aside.
3. In a small saucepan, add the rolled oats, the chia seeds and the milk. Simmer for a couple of minutes, again stirring all the time. When ready, let cool and put in a bowl.
4. Top with your caramelised fruit, chocolate chips, almond flakes, and pour some fresh milk. If you like add extra honey and serve.
P.N. You can prepare it the day before and leave it soaking overnight in a jar in the fridge, or make it 10 minutes before serving.