At the World Porridge Championships, quick-cooking oats need not apply
Behind the scenes at the 24th annual Golden Spurtle, where perfect oatmeal is a grueling business
This documentary first aired in January 2018.
By Johnny Spence
What the heck is a spurtle?
I asked this simple question about this strange word, unaware that I was opening a door to a whole world of weird. On the other side was a myriad of delicious smells, delightful sounds, and a handful of truly idiosyncratic individuals.
(Oh, but back to the spurtle — it's a traditional wooden porridge-stirring tool, whose streamlined shape prevents the porridge from getting clumpy.)
But for one weekend each year, all that changes when the Golden Spurtle comes to town.
There are two categories: traditional and specialty. The ingredients, in the traditional category, anyway, may be simple — water, salt and oats — but competitors all have their secrets, from water brought from local springs to specific sea salt and fresh-milled oats.
Having been gifted a spurtle of my own by my mother and grandmother, and now having fully descended into the rabbit hole of the Golden Spurtle, I decided to travel to Scotland and follow two first-time competitors as they make their way through the weekend's festivities.
From the bagpipe parade to the high-stakes cookoff, take a trip to the other side of the door and listen as Paddy and Johan compete in the quest for the Golden Spurtle.
And in case you're wondering? The winning porridge was delicious. I tasted it.
Music by Eabhal.
Listen to the documentary, "The Quest for the Golden Spurtle," by clicking the Listen link at the top of the page, or download and subscribe to our podcast.
Johnny Spence is a musician, radio producer, sound artist, and community arts facilitator.
Johnny's compositions and performances have been featured on a number of critically acclaimed recordings and he has toured internationally with both high profile and more independent acts. He produces radio documentaries on his own as well as one half of JustBeCuz. Past radio work has aired on BBC, CBC, ABC, and among the waves of the Bay of Fundy on Red Clay Radio.
Johnny Spence's previous documentary for The Doc Project was 'The Davenport Songbook, about a songwriting initiative in Toronto's Davenport West community.
This documentary was edited by Alison Cook and Julia Pagel.