I was scanning the headlines in my RSS feed (I’ve managed to drive it down to 100, those with interesting headlines), and I saw one from Serious Eats about breakfast poutine — french fries and cheese curds with gravy, plus, in this case, scrambled egg. Now, I’ve never had poutine before, and my impression of it is that it’s what Terry Pratchett would call ‘drunk food’. You know: you’re in Canada and you’ve had two or eight Kokanees and suddenly fries and gravy with underdone cheese lumps sounds good. Or you’re in Oz, and you’ve had a few Fosters and suddenly a meat pie floating upside down in a bowl of split pea soup sounds just too right, mate. Which made me think that I should belt back a sixpack of San Miguel, and see what I thought of oatmeal poutine. I know this is backsliding from my original goal of not doing side dishes with my oatmeal, but I figure if my conscience starts bothering me, I can always buy it a sixpack of San Miguel as well.

The first problem was assembling the ingredients. We’re OK on oatmeal, and I can whip up some sort of gravy, but where does one get fresh cheese curds when you’re living in the NE NW? Well, as the witch in the Charles Addams cartoon said, “We’re out of dwarfs hair, dearie, can we substitute”? I figured I had two choices. I could go find a goat, or I could buy some large-curd cottage cheese. Despite the fact that the curds in large curd would probably be considered crumbs in Quebec, I decided to go the cottage cheese route.

The second problem is that this will essentially be plain oatmeal with stuff on it, and we all know what straight up oatmeal tastes like. It’s part of the reason the Scots fled the island and diasporized across the world. That, and the kilts. Yeah, I know, Scots are always wearing them at their local Highland Games in whatever country they’ve washed up at: Spokane, WA, August 6; Arlington, VA, September 3; Fresno, CA, September 19: Melbourne, AU, April 15. You’ll note that they are all in the hottest parts of their countries in almost the hottest parts of the year. What does a Scotsman wear under his kilt? A set of thermal briefs, two sets of long johns, and a pair of sweat pants, but only when he’s at home.

Having insulted my ancestors ancestors (you know that the Scoti were a Northern Irish tribe, back in Roman times, right?), let’s see if there’s something we can do to make our oat poutine taste less like oats.

Except, in the interests of Science! we should really give it a try plain, first. So: we start with a big glob of large-curd cottage cheese. Yes, I know it’s old and not squeaky, this is a field expedient, shut up. Half a cup of water and a quarter spoonful each of beef/mushroom broth, from a jar. Teaspoonish of Wondra, for thickening. A third of a cup of the usual instant oatmeal.

While the oats are cooking, rinse and drain the curds. Boil the brothwater, add the broth mix, shake and stir in the Wondra, and simmer until it’s gravy. Dump oatmeal into dish, top with curds, pour gravy over.

Result. Moderate failure. Didn’t taste bad, exactly, just not what I wanted. Cheese curd flavor didn’t make it through. If I took just a bit of gravy, it was tasteless oats with tasteless cheese curd. If I took too much, it was, well, gravy. Maybe if I had browned the oatmeal a little. We shall have to ponder this.

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