Stirring win for the first lady of quality porridge

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The Independent Online

Goldilocks only had to taste three bowls before she found the one that was 'just right', but spare a thought for the judges of yesterday's Golden Spurtle World Porridge-Making Championship. They had a far more daunting task.

A panel of three judges was selected from the upper echelons of Scotland's culinary elite. They had to taste from the dishes of the world's 13 most distinguished porridge-makers before deciding which lucky master of the oats went home with the prized Golden Spurtle.

The spurtle – essentially a stick with pretensions – is the traditional stirring implement still used by the majority of the competitors. The 14th annual contest took place in the natural home of the dish: Scotland, in the small village of Carrbridge, Inverness-shire. The only ingredients allowed were oatmeal, water and salt. Immediate disqualification was the punishment for any porridge-maker who tries to use instant oat flakes, or – worse still – to add cream to enhance the texture.

The porridges were judged on their consistency, colour and taste and Marie Soep, of Roineabhal Country House, took away the coveted title. The B&B owner said the secret to her success was organic pinhead oatmeal, which the judges praised for its "nutty texture". The dedicated enthusiast soaked the oats for 24 hours before cooking the dish for a full half-an-hour on the stove.

"I grew up around porridge", said Ms Soep afterwards, "and it has to be done properly. I don't like that instant stuff – it tastes like wallpaper paste".

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