Thursday, 13 March 2014

"Sweet Porridge"? How sweet we talkin'?

After I stared reading this fairy story, I realized I actually remembered it from my childhood! Granted it's very short, explaining why I remember it. Yes, I was that kid, the one where the slightest thing, such as an ordinary bird flying past a window would take my attention. In my defense, it was a very rare bird, I was a birdwatcher you see. No, alright I wasn't, I just liked to space out.

The story, is also about a little girl, and of course has the theme of food (what with the title being 'Sweet Porridge'), of which this post is going to look at why and how such an innocuous meal makes such an impact.

"There was a poor but good little girl who lived alone with her mother, and they no longer had anything to eat".
This theme of hunger is not only popular with the Grimm brothers (because of their own experience with a pauper life, they would often skip meals to give something to their younger siblings and mother) but other story-tellers. Most children's fairy tales have morals behind them, otherwise what wold be the point in retelling these stories? And, in this case it is quickly established, as despite having nothing and on the brink of starvation the little girl is still "good" a good moral lesson for children, to not give up hope or turn churlish because of your circumstances.

Fortunately, the little girl is given a helping hand, and in a turn of extremely good luck she is given a little pot with magical abilities:
"An aged woman met her who was aware of her sorrow, and presented her with a little pot, which when she said, "Cook, little pot, cook", would cook good, sweet porridge" ".

The food itself, porridge, is quite simple. It doesn't take long to make or many ingredients, however it will most likely seem quite luxurious to the mother and daughter as they have no food left.
Porridge generally has quite a bland flavor unless you add sugar to it after but this little pot will already cook "sweet" porridge and by itself, saving the mother from this little chore.

"Now they were freed from their poverty and hunger, and ate sweet porridge as often as they chose".

It's interesting that the Grimm brothers decided the little pot would conjure porridge for the poor mother and daughter, instead of say, something which would be considered a treat for them, for example chocolate.
Possibly because porridge can be considered a 'humble' food. For example, take Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (of course, as you know not by the Grimm bothers), the little spoiled girl in particular, one of the handful of children given the rare chance to visit every child's dream, took it for granted when she snatched the experimental 'dinner' chewing gum and began chewing. It was great, at first, she tasted delicious appetizers, a main course and the beginning of a scrumptious dessert; until the blueberry desert became too much for her and she began to grow bigger and bigger until she was the size of a house! 

A similar scenario occurs within Sweet Porridge, as the porridge becomes too much for the mother to handle and the porridge begins to overflow the little pot, into the kitchen, into the house and even into the town.
It teaches humility and a lesson on greed, especially since, thanks to the little pot, they would never be hungry again, despite it making porridge. Nor would they ever, hypothetically have to cook again, so the pot making a treat such as chocolate, could be interpreted as being 'too much'; which could lead to suspicion from the little girl and mother, therefore unlikely they would accept for fear of the repercussions.

If I could just take you back to the pot overflowing,
"So it went on cooking and the porridge rose over the edge, and still it cooked on until the kitchen and the whole house were full, and then the next house, and then the whole street, just as if it wanted to satisfy the hunger of the whole world, and there was the greatest distress, but no one knew how to stop it"
Isn't it a little comical, to imagine an entire town running around, and even swimming in the lumpy porridge, panicking about the house that won't stop producing it, and not a one of them thinks to just say 'stop'? Maybe it's just me, but I always love it when something happens that is so over the top, that even though it's not supposed to be funny, it is.

What's interesting though is that the two male authors decided to make the protagonist a little girl, not even a woman but a child. It's refreshing to have a girl save the day for once isn't it? I don't know about you but the prince charming act just makes me want to roll my eyes.
Yep, she's was the savior of the whole town and not just a slipper.
Just to get technical, it was a nice touch from the Grimm brothers to personify the pot: "as if it wanted to satisfy... world", treating the inanimate object as if it has a mind of it's own, which in turn makes it seem like the little girl has more power than the others, as she wasn't able to just stop the pot but control it.

I've never craved porridge but this video makes it look delicious!! For all you Porridge Lovers, try these out!!

How To Make Perfect Porridge- 5 Ways: Jamie Oliver!

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