Apple Crumble Porridge and a Pocketwatch
For as long as I can remember, my pappa (grandfather on my mother’s side) has always eaten porridge for breakfast. I don’t think I can recall him ever eating anything else. When we stayed with our grandparents when we were little, I used to get out of bed in the morning before my siblings were even awake to watch pappa make porridge in a big silver pot that was old and beaten and looked as though it was imbued with magical powers. I remember him telling me that eating porridge every morning would make me strong and healthy, and watching his tall, lean figure at the stove, stirring the porridge like a wizard mixing potions, I believed every word he said. So, like a good student, I listened keenly and then greedily gobbled up every last spoonful in my bowl. It was so delicious! It was creamy, buttery, sweet, salty and spicy all at once, and I never had to be convinced to eat it. It was my favourite breakfast then and still is today.
I love making and eating porridge for breakfast. It’s nutritious and filling and I think of my pappa every time I make it. I feel like it connects us, and will do so even when he’s gone. Standing at the stove, with my own silver pot, wooden spoon in hand, I can’t help but be swept away by the ritual that is porridge making. It allows me time to gather my thoughts in the morning and enjoy the memories that it stirs up. Memories of running down long corridors in woollen socks and sliding all over the place; of frost covered mornings when the only thing you wanted was blankets and porridge and to stay indoors; of summers spent swimming in my grandparents pool; of bowls of ice cream topped with red currents; memories of so many moments! Even though some are fleeting, these memories and moments of mine, they ground me in space and time, make me feel solid and ready to tackle the day ahead.
My usual porridge is made using coconut milk and topped with fresh fruit, an assortment of seeds and nuts and dash of maple syrup. But every now and then, when I have the time and the inclination, I will make this. It’s decadent yet still feels healthy, even though I’m sure it’s not. Too many of these will likely send you to an early grave, but eaten in moderation is fine, as are most things. I like to make this during the cooler months, and thought I’d make it one last time as we’re now in spring and I probably won’t pull this recipe out again until autumn. Now, you might be wondering what a pocket watch has to do with porridge, and ordinarily, I’d say not much. But this recipe was inspired, much like the eating of porridge for breakfast, by my pappa, who, for as long as I can remember, has, along with the merits of eating porridge, told me a story about a lost pocket watch that used to belong to his father. This particular watch was gifted to him as a young man, and he carried it with him proudly until the day it stopped working. In 1975, he took the watch to a watchmaker, in the small village in Finland where her lived, to be fixed. For some reason or another, the watch was never collected and was all but forgotten.
Then in 1978, my grandfather, along with his family, relocated to Australia. It was a few months after arriving in Australia that my pappa remembered the watch. I think he must have lamented the loss of the watch, and that’s why he would, every now and then, recount the tale of how it was lost. A few times he even considered buying another, but never did. I suspect he couldn’t bear to replace the original with a copy with little worth: with a watch that had never been held in the hands of his father. But it sometimes happens, on very rare occasions, that people are united with the lost things they cherish. It happens to be the case here!
Forty years later, my pappa proudly wears the pocket watch once more. And all because my mummo (grandma), on a recent trip to Finland, in the very same village, decided as she was walking past the very same watchmaker, to go inside and tell the owner the story of the forgotten pocket watch and how it had been left behind, and asked if, by some miracle, they still had the watch. She did this on a whim, not expecting anything to come of it. The watchmaker said he would search the store and contact her if he should find it. A few weeks past by and nothing was heard. But, on the very day my mummo and mum where leaving, they received a call saying the watch had been found, and it had been repaired and was working. They watchmaker had kept it all this time! They picked it up on their way to Helsinki and brought it back to Australia and back to my pappa, who was very happy indeed to hold the watch in his hands once more. I know this because he told me so, with a twinkle in his eye, as he ladled me out some porridge for breakfast.
Love and light!