Porridge has an unsexy reputation. When you think of the food,  you probably think of lumpy, mushy oatmeal. It’s something so visually unappealing that Goldilocks could barely find an adequate bowl. But whatever your associations may be, they’re wrong. You probably fail to keep in mind that this simple dish helped sustain entire civilizations. It might even be the first dish ever cooked!

The magical equation of grains, water, and fire make this one of the oldest and heartiest food to ever exist, helping fuel sustenance in societies all around the world.  One thing’s for sure: This isn’t leisurely brunch food. This is “toil all day in the fields” food! But that doesn’t mean it still can’t taste great.

This installment of Universal Eats explores the ubiquitous phenomena that is porridge. Seriously, nearly every culture has one. The varieties discussed in the video above include:

  • Congee—an East Asian porridge made from rice, often with the addition of meat and other side dishes
  • Champorado—a Filipino rice porridge, often made with cocoa and coconut milk
  • Polenta —a savory, boiled cornmeal dish, most associated with Italy
  • Grits—a cornmeal-based porridge, most famous in the Southern United States

Watch as a series of chefs and culinary experts break down how and why these foods transcend borders, and how porridge is often the first and last food we eat, from the cradle to the grave. Then go make yourself a big bowl of oatmeal!

And if you’ve missed past episodes, be sure to watch our videos on frozen desserts and dumplings.

Chowhound’s Universal Eats is a new video series that explores foods that transcend cultures and borders around the world to globally to connect us all. Episodes will premiere every Tuesday on Facebook Watch, so be sure to follow our page to catch each installment.

Jessica is a former Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.
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