Since porridge takes time, and you need to keep stirring it, it is not typically associated with fast food. But recently I’ve seen three different ways of serving it up to take away or on demand.
The first was the Stoats Porridge van at the Edinburgh Farmer’s Market (this picture is with my iPod, because I didn't have my camera with me).
They offer lots of different toppings, but I chose plain with salt, thinking this would just be the standard Scottish standard recipe. But they poured lots more salt over it, and then milk. Tess and Alice sampled it, but found it way too salty, until Tess tried reclassifying it as a savoury dish rather than a breakfast.
Last week I was staying at the Comfort Hotel in Malmö, Sweden, for a day while waiting for a plane. It offered a good but fairly standard breakfast buffet, with fruit, cheeses, and breads, but they also have this ingenious set-up to let you make your own oatmeal porridge in the dedicated microwave that is just to the left of this bowl.
I followed their instructions (1 dl oats, 2 dl water, salt, 2 min. cooking time) and found it made a rather thick paste. But it was very good, especially with the ground linseeds, a bit of yoghurt, and some fruit.
A few days ago we were staying overnight in Manchester (to see Albert Herring at the Royal Northern College of Music), and I got up early on a morning of snow and sleet to look for somewhere that would provide porridge. I found it was featured at the Prêt à Manger in Piccadilly Gardens. It is presented already cooked, in cardboard containers that are kept warm in a display cabinet. You can take little plastic pots of honey or fruit compote to put on top. They make a big deal on the side of the carton about how authentic it is and how slowly it was produced.
I was skeptical, but it is indeed the right consistency (unlike the microwave porridge) and the right taste; my only complaint would be that it was not quite as warm as I’d like it. (Or maybe it cooled while I took the pictures).
None of these methods of porridge-to-go is perfect, but I was grateful just to have porridge available when I needed it, and for me at least they are all preferable to the usual hotel muffin, croisant, or fry-up.