Oatmeal Schmoatmeal

What is it about oatmeal, that ubiquitous breakfast food? What is so attractive about a smiling old Quaker caricature? Why is it so appealing to everyone? Well, almost everyone. Until yesterday, I had never had oatmeal. In my entire life. Don’t believe me? You should. I don’t lie, not about my food.

And you know what? It’s not that bad, but it’s not that great either. To me, it tastes a little bit like Passover food, which makes me think I’m eating it about two months early.

Here’s how it happened. I decided last night, during a brief period of insanity, that I wanted a late night (10 p.m., I’m such a rebel) snack. I had already had approximately 3 Thin Mints (I love Girl Scout season), 2 Brussels cookies, a couple handfuls of cereal, and some raw cookie dough, all of this after dinner. For some reason I was convinced I still needed that little something else before I would be really satisfied for the night. So I said to myself “tonight is the night I like oatmeal.” To be honest, oatmeal actually disgusts me. It’s all gloopy and smooshy and wet and lumpy and warm. I think it’s the warm that pushes me over the edge, because very few other textures actually bother me. But I decided to put all that behind me and convince myself that I liked oatmeal.

So I grab Mr. Quaker Oats in his funny columnar canister off the shelf (well obviously I own oatmeal, I have to make cookies after all) and read the directions on the back. I decide to go with the heart healthy (denoted by a <3) serving size and measure out my cup and a half of water (wouldn’t want to waste precious milk on a science experiment), which along with a sprinkling of salt – it calls for a dash – I set to boil on the stove. I measure out three-quarters of a cup of old-fashioned rolled oats and watch impatiently as my pot of water finally boils (ha! take that, old wives). As directed, I put the oats in the salted water and stir occasionally for closer to ten minutes than the five that are called for. I decide it’s probably done because it looks abhorrently mushy and I taste it gingerly before adding any of my pre-selected mix-ins (banana, cinnamon, brown sugar, and A LOT more salt). It tastes like – well – warm splooshy Passover food. In a word, disgusting. Despite this initial letdown I decide to proceed with my experiment (bananas are cheap, not such a waste) and add an entire banana in slices, a generous dosing of cinnamon, and about half a handful of brown sugar. Mix, mix, mix, mix, taste …. blechhh! Needs salt. Salt, salt, salt, salt, mix, mix, mix, mix, cinnamon, cinnamon, mix, mix, taste, alright! Tastes okay, not great, but I don’t really like this kind of thing anyway. I have three bites, and I’m full. No wonder they say eat oatmeal to lose weight. It is the densest, heaviest, most filling breakfast I could possibly imagine. I had three bites and I was so full I was nauseous.

After picking out all the bananas and eating them (I guess it would have been a waste after all), I decide it’s a waste to throw out all that perfectly good, fresh, hot oatmeal, so I consult my resident oatmeal guru and housemate Hillary, who eats oatmeal practically everyday (although she makes her in that funny thing called a microwave) if she thinks it would still be good tomorrow (today) if I keep it in the fridge. She thought it would be fine, so I covered it up in Saran Wrap and stick it on the top shelf, next to my precious milk, and promptly forgot about it and went to watch the Daily Show.

This morning, I thought I would try some cold oatmeal. Hey, it couldn’t have gotten any worse, right? Again, I had two bites, was a little nauseated, and decided to have some peanut butter toast for breakfast instead. Always a good idea, peanut butter toast. But still I stuck it back in the fridge. I would not throw it out until it was all gone or gone rancid.

But tonight again I was in the mood for a late night snack and the first thing I think of is my cold oatmeal. It couldn’t have been as bad as I thought, right? At this point it is cold, cinnamony, full of banana flavor but with no banana pieces, and infused with delicious brown sugar. Sounds delicious – what could possibly be bad about that? Oh, the whole OATMEAL part. The mushy gooey slimy Passover food just wouldn’t taste GOOD. No, it wasn’t bad, just not as good as I wanted it to be. But I ate it. All of it.

I am sitting here with an empty oatmeal bowl next to me, and you know what? Maybe I’ll make it again, but save it in the fridge for a day because cold oatmeal really is the only way to go in my book. Or maybe that’s a waste of oatmeal, and I’ll use the rest of my oatmeal (can’t call it a box…) silo to make cookies or something more rewarding than HEALTHY breakfast gloop.

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