BY CASEY BINTANG COON
I was having brunch with my friend Cindy the other day. It was a beautiful day, and we picked a nice café out so we could meet up and catch up. I was so glad to see Cindy. But the morning soon turned as sour as week-old milk, and by the time we parted ways, I knew deep down that I would never speak to her again.
What had Cindy done? She’d ordered porridge.
As soon as she dipped a spoon into that beige, oaten gruel; I saw that something had changed in Cindy. I knew then that if wanted to retain my integrity and the values that I hold so strongly, I would have to cut that bitch off like a gangrenous limb.
Now I know that some of you may object to my dislike of porridge, but I have to step on a few toes to get this message across; porridge is racist. I’m sorry that it’s your favourite breakfast gruel, and I know; your mum made it for you when you were a little kid, but it’s time to cut the apron strings, bucko. I hate to be the one to tell you that you spent your childhood sucking racist, brown-sugar-and-cut-up-banana covered lies through a capitalist-imperialist teat.
That boiled oaten sludge is the most perverse cultural appropriation every to darken our pantry doors, and I refuse to swallow it regardless of how much sugar you put on top. Here is a food that is enjoyed the world over as Groats, Gruel, Terci de ovăz, Kasha, Cornmeal Mush, Tsampa, Polenta, Cream of Wheat, Upma, Yarma and even Congee and it’s been appropriated by WHITE PEOPLE and downgraded to a mere breakfast food to be slathered in fresh fruit and sugar syrup. Have we no shame that all of those proud traditional foods have been condensed into Kwik Oats, eaten by people and sheeple who don’t even care.
I would have expected a bit more cultural sensitivity from Cindy; she’d just come back from finishing her Masters degree at an exclusive Fingerpainting College in Boston AND a five-month internship in an ashram in Uttar Pradesh. Had all this Eat/Pray Loveliness taught her nothing?
It sickened me to think that on returning to Australian shores she chose a dish appropriated by (and now historically associated with) British prisons. How could she not have realized the historical link, does the phrase “Doing Porridge” to refer to serving time behind bars mean nothing to her? Could she not taste the pain?
I know, she may have paid $19.80 for a bowl of it, and it may have come with a handful of raspberries (the cocaine of the fruit world) scattered disrespectfully over the top. But did the chef or whatever even remember to stir the oats only in a clockwise direction, as an old Scottish tradition instructs, so as to discourage the Devil from entering the pot? I don’t fucking think so.
It made little difference. Halfway through our conversation on the subject of Vegan Dogfood (Racist) I caught sight of her bowl and was overcome with an oat-fuelled rage. I just couldn’t help it; I lost control.
With Bruce-Lee swiftness, I upended Cindy’s shameful porridge bowl all over the stupid floppy ASOS hat she was wearing. I snatched the half-eaten haloumi and avocado roll from my plate and leapt into a nearby cab. As the car pulled away, I saw Cindy; shocked and confused, wiping the porridge from her racist face. She mouthed a silent “What the fuck?” through the café window.
I knew then that I’d done the right thing.