To my mind, oatmeal is the most boring food on Earth. On its own, without nuts or raisins sprinkled in, it’s the equivalent of a blank canvas aching for paint. If you're into the conceptual, po-mo weirdness of bare walls and dudes sitting at pianos not playing a note, then oatmeal is probably the perfect food for you -- you and Oliver Twist. After all, gruel is only a tiny cultural leap away from its big-city cousin, oatmeal. When Dickens' titular orphan hero asks, "Please, sir, might I have more?" (I'm paraphrasing here), that's how we, as readers, are meant to understand how utterly wretched his life is. For God's sake, the boy is begging for oatmeal.
But if the culinary trends of the last decade have taught us anything, it's that one era's poverty food is another's gourmet treat. (In a world where millions starve to death, the privilege of being able to complain about oatmeal is not lost on me.) So this Sunday (which also happens to be World Porridge Day, a terrific event that helps feed children in some of the poorest countries around the globe), an international array of chefs who take oatmeal way too seriously will gather at the 16th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship in Carrbridge, Scotland, where they’ll do their best to gussy up the tabula rasa of the breakfast world.
And for the first and only time in the history of this storied oatmeal-cooking competition, an American entrant has stepped onto the field of battle.
The hopes, dreams and culinary pride of our nation rest on the shoulders of Matt Cox (of team Bob’s Red Mill), who will pit his Oregon Orchard Oat Brûlée against the best oats from around the world. Cox's signature oatmeal is a brûlée-topped wonder of steel-cut oats studded with a fruitful bounty of Oregon pears, cherries, hazelnuts and distilled spirits.
We don't know what odds the bookies have laid down, but Cox has the potential to blow the lid off the oatmeal world. You can cheer him on via Twitter or try the recipe that he spent months perfecting for yourself. Go, Team Oatmerica!
[Recipe after the jump]