Why I'm Leaving the Oatmeal Wilderness

By Corby Kummer

Ari Weinzweig has gotten me into a lot of bad habits. One of them is starting every morning with a bowl of oatmeal. Today's piece on his favorite Macroom's reminds that I've got to order some. Like right now. It's been years since I've had it, and I've been in the Irish wilderness of believing the handsome, sturdy British Isles industrial-revolution packaging of McCann's, the kind of box that has gold medals from London in 1851 and Chicago in 1893.

Even if McCann's is part of Odlums, which makes the only brown-bread mix I can find (and life would be impoverished without brown bread, incomparably light but nutty, every now and then), McCann's is close but not close enough to Ari's Macroom. I've just finished a bowl of steel-cut oats--the healthful, whole-grain kind, with a stamp logo of endorsement by the Whole Grains Council, a group founded by Oldways. I sure want to have whole grains, but not when after an hour of simmering they're still hard and too pellet-like, without any creaminess in the liquid.

Back to Arrowhead Mills rolled oats for now, which unlike most pasty, tasteless brands have a kind of precise oat flavor, and nice creaminess after only a few minutes. Yes, I use instant! There, I said it. And rolled oats, even if as Ari points out they look "something like the seedpods of autumn elm trees without the wings"--like they'd been steamrolled, which if you've seen an oat factory they literally are.

But Macroom's soon as Zingerman's gets them to me. And I'll heed Ari's suggestions both about thinking of savory oatmeal suppers, which sound odd and possibly yucky only because we're used to oatmeal as a breakfast; imagine if, like friends from Philadelphia or Southerners used to grits, we'd grown up thinking of polenta as exclusively breakfast food and couldn't imagine what chefs were doing putting it next to salmon and roast pork. And try to resist ordering the Muscovado brown sugar he rightly insists on. That I don't need oatmeal to polish off in about three days flat.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/06/why-im-leaving-the-oatmeal-wilderness/19712/