Fri | Dec 3, 2021

Hello Mi Neighbour | Take porridge-preparation approach to problem-solving

Published:Wednesday | March 13, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Cornmeal Porridge

Hello, mi neighbour! What’s your favourite kind of porridge? Strange question? Please stay with me. As many of us know, porridge is usually made from ground, crushed, or chopped starchy plants (typically grains), boiled in water, with optional flavours, and is usually sweetened and served hot. Historically, porridge was a staple food in many parts of the world (and still is in some). It is easily digested and widely used for the sick in many cultures.

To whet the appetite for knowledge, we share a few types of porridge eaten around the world:

- Finnish whipped porridge with yogurt.

- Cracked-wheat porridge with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and turnip-top salsa.

- Spiced buttermilk oatmeal with dried fruit and pecans.

- Jamaican hominy, cornmeal, green plantain/banana and oatmeal.

- Coconut bread with cassava, pumpkin halvah, Danish rye bread, and rice porridge with chicken and ginger.

Jamaicans will fall in love for a bowl of cornmeal porridge in the morning with two slices of bread and a little steamed ­callaloo, complemented by a fried dumpling or two on the side. By itself, cornmeal porridge is also great. You may say “yuck” a million times, but this easy-to-make dish is ideal for babies and children. Try it, okay?

Okay, why am I telling my neighbours about porridge today? I checked my favourite spot for a bowl of porridge this morning, and there was none. The second reason ties in with the Jamaican expression ‘dat a parrige’ or ‘dat a butta’, meaning that the task at hand, though seemingly difficult, is quite easy to accomplish when examined closely. As they say, just put your mind to it. Examination candidates in my day would often refer to exam papers as ‘parrige’ or ‘butta’ as for them, they were sure to pass.


For the purposes of this discourse, ‘porridge’ is used as a metaphor for seeing an apparently difficult task as manageable with the application of the right skills and attitudes the problem-­solving. Here’s to connection. To ­prepare a pot of Jamaican cornmeal porridge, ingredients should include refined cornmeal, water, milk (coconut or otherwise), cinnamon, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, etc. A sweetener is optional.

To make some of the most difficult tasks become more ­manageable, the ­porridge-preparation approach is recommended. For this, we acquire and apply the ingredients of patience, compassion, knowledge, kindness, honesty unselfishness, tolerance, etc.

With all those blended and made to boil on the fire of love, there is no limit to the kinds of issues we can resolve as a nation. And don’t we have a lot of them! Can’t think of anyone who loved her porridge more than my mother. When it was time to prepare this dish, anywhere the ingredients were, she would find them, and the rest is history.

I’d like to challenge my neighbours to take the ­porridge-preparation approach to problem-solving. Let’s acquire the ingredients (emotional skills) needed and get to work: patience, compassion, ­knowledge, kindness, honesty unselfishness, tolerance, etc.

As you enjoy your bowl of ­porridge today, please ­remember someone from list below and give a helping hand if you can.



- Annette, St Andrew, for food items.

- Courtney, St Andrew, for donation.

- Neighbour, St Catherine, for donating shoes to Joyce, St Catherine.

- Neighbour, St Andrew, for donation.


- Simone, mother of three, is asking for shoes for children. Sizes: girls: nine and four. Boy: baby size 10. Size 9 ½ for her.

- Icelyn, St Catherine, amputee, badly in need of a ­mattress. Also asking for a TV and a refrigerator.

- Merdella, St Elizabeth, mother of five, asking for ply and zinc or help to purchase. Heart is aching for help.

- Ophelia, St Andrew, asking for a dining table.

- To help, please call Silton Townsend at 334-8165, 884-3866, or deposit to acct # 351 044 276, NCB. Alternatively, send donations to HELLO NEIGHBOUR C/o 53 Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 10. Paypal/credit card email: Contact Visit Mr Townsend exclusively manages the collections and distributions mentioned in this column and is neither an employee nor agent of The Gleaner.