Thursday, February 26, 2009

Please Sir, I Want Some More........

These days, when fixing porridge, I always remember the classic scene in the 1968 movie Oliver! (complete with exclamation point) when angel faced Mark Lester, as Oliver, slowly leaves the workhouse dining table and goes with his empty wooden bowl to ask Harry Secombe for more food.  Just looking at Harry, you could tell Mark was on a no win mission !  It also takes me back to my school days.

We had porridge most mornings at school.  Now remember I went to a boarding school so it's not like the porridge was brought from home in a lunchbox !  No, we all trooped in to the huge dining hall which was a cross between the dining room at Hogwarts and the dining room at the workhouse in Oliver!  Usually the food was more workhouse based than Hogwarts but the kitchen did put out very decent porridge.

We'd all be at long rectangular tables, seating 10 I think, with a table leader at the head of each. I'm sure he had a better title but it WAS a long time ago and my dodgy memory is infamous. I think.

Anyway after a few years there, I made it to be a table leader and boy did that position come with perks.  The leader was the one who 'doled out' the food to the eager faced and rumbling tummied boarders around the table and so, if it was done right (and by right I mean to the benefit of the leader), he would get the lion share of anything good and the mouse share of anything else. Like veggies in my case.  Uggggggg.

Porridge was one of my favs and I made sure there was plenty left in the serving dish for yours truely.  I do remember there being plenty of 'skin' on the porridge and I used to love that too.  I was an odd child.

The only other food item I remember with any fondness was potato bread.  I've never ever had potato bread as good since. I think that was just a treat for Sunday breakfasts and so, being a weekly item, it has grown in my memory as a Good Thing.  I've bought packs of potato bread many times since my school days but can never get it the way we had it back then. I'm not sure if it was created from scratch, probably not, but whatever they did to it afterwards made it something special on my youthful taste buds.

This is how I seem to get it these days, dry and mostly unappetising........

Back then, when we knew it as fadge, the pieces were square and came moist and delicious on a huge platter. Maybe it was the half ton of butter that was placed on top that made it stick in my mind (and my arteries) but I couldn't get enough of the things.  They weren't popular with everyone and so I usually had as many as I could eat with some left over.

Sadly even then we weren't allowed to take left over food out of the dining room, not that this happened very often with a room full of hundreds of starving 11-18 year olds.  I do recall going around other tables in my search for left over fadge if I'd somehow miscalculated at my own table.  I'd return to my hoard with the air of a big game hunter who had just bagged a prized beast and would be rewarded with 9 stares approaching hero worship and sometimes a small ripple of applause. This sowed the seeds of my reputation as a food scrounger of the highest order at school as well as sowing the seeds for my eventual heart attacks 20 years or so further down the road. 

Damn you, delicious fadge.

I'm always surprised by what my mind retains.  Hell I'm always surprised that it retains anything. But although my school days were NOT the happiest of my life, they will always be the days when porridge and fadge started to become 2 lifelong favourites of mine.

And speaking of such, I'm off to fix some porridge.


Daphne said...

All that school-dinner table-leader stuff was, and is, a complete mystery to me as I lived so near the school that I always came home for lunch (the Meal Formerly Known as Dinner). I love porridge though and I love potato bread too but I'd never heard the term "fadge" until I heard you use it. I always enjoy these stories from your past, more please.

britoutofwater said...

That is the first time I have ever in my life seen the word 'fadge'. Was that your school's made-up name for potato bread, or do folk on the wrong side of the Pennines actually call it that?!

Silverback said...

My school was/is in N. Ireland, Dylan, and Ulster/Irish potato bread is called fadge. One of many words which I think are unique to the region.

Jay said...

Aaah ... I used to love good porridge! With a little brown sugar on top and a bit of cold milk to bring the temperature down to edible. Mmmmm!

I do like potato pancakes, too, which look exactly the same as the potato bread in the picture. I think one of the problems these days is the variety of potato they use.

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