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Adventures in food for curious cooks.

Unfortunate Porridge and a Baleful Breakfast

Unfortunate Cooking

Come for the delicious recipes. Stay for the terrible story.

Unfortunate Porridge and a Baleful Breakfast

Lynley Jones

Return to A Series of Unfortunate Recipes homepage.

This week we avoid cannibals and reveal an evil plot to destroy breakfast.

Breakfast with Cannibals

This image, obtained from the files of the Netflix corporation, shows Count Olaf drinking a cup of coffee while the Baudelaires chop wood.

Certain people like to say that you are what you eat. Of course, these people are usually cannibals.

If you are reading this, it is possible that you are a cannibal. And although I appreciate your invitation to breakfast next week, I will not be able to attend because I will be in an underwater cavern that day, analyzing the growth patterns of toxic mushrooms.

On the other hand, if I were to attend, it would mean that you were actually a bowl of oatmeal instead of a cannibal, because that is what I would bring to share with you for breakfast.

Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire often found themselves wishing they were bowls of oatmeal instead of orphans trying to evade the clutches of the dastardly Count Olaf. Not only was Olaf villainously evil, he was also evilly villainous. If the Baudelaires had been bowls of oatmeal rather than children who stood to inherit an enormous fortune, it is unlikely he would have wanted to have anything to do with them at all. This is because Count Olaf was a disgusting man who loved money, which tastes terrible, more than oatmeal, which tastes delicious.

Morning Misfortune

This image was obtained by one of my associates from the files of the Netflix corporation, at great personal risk. Count Olaf's disgusting pots of cold porridge can be seen clearly with the naked eye.

Nutritionists will tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is because they have never had breakfast at Count Olaf's house. If they had, they would tell you that every meal in his filthy and wretched home is equally miserable, and should be avoided at all costs.

The Baudelaires could not avoid breakfast during their brief but harrowing stay at Count Olaf's house, because it was foisted upon them every morning in the form of lumpy, cold oatmeal. This brutal breakfast routine was so horrifying that certain lawyers and television executives would not allow Lemony Snicket to portray the meal in his recent documentary on Netflix.

If you were to read Snicket's written account of the Baudelaires' stay at Count Olaf's house, you would find this breakfast ordeal described at the top of page 31, where his editor was unable to find it. It is a terrible thing when an unpleasant experience is repeated. It is a terrible thing when an unpleasant experience is repeated, but this particularly loathsome meal was repeated every day for the Baudelaires, and there was nothing they could do about it.

If you are not currently living in the atrocious home of an evil villain conspiring to get his filthy hands on your fortune, it is possible that you could make your own oatmeal. And when you do, you will have some choices to make.

Blueberries, rolled oats, shredded coconut and brown sugar, ready for oatmeal.

Mushy or Magnificent

Your first choice will be whether to use rolled oats or steel-cut oats. Both are equally delicious and loved by nutritionists and decent people everywhere. Rolled oats cook in 5 minutes, but if not handled with care (as explained in my recipe), can quickly become unpleasantly mushy and lumpy. Steel-cut oats cook in about 20 minutes, but have a pleasantly nubby texture and stalwartly resist the tendency to lumpiness. In either case, you will want to avoid oats that have been labeled "quick-cooking" or "instant," because those words are are a secret code informing you of a conspiracy to make your oatmeal turn out mushy and disgusting.   

Sunny Baudelaire, who became an accomplished chef later in life. Obtained by questionable means from the Netflix corporation.

After wandering for hours through the desolate landscape of my local Whole Foods market, I created recipes for both steel-cut and rolled oats. The steel-cut oats are cooked with cinnamon, whereas the rolled oats are cooked with shredded coconut as well as with coconut oil, which not only helps it to remain un-lumpy, but also tastes delightfully delicious, and would remind the Baudelaires of a certain beloved herpetologist if they were to join you for breakfast.


Coconut Oatmeal with Blueberries and Bananas

Rolled oats cooked with shredded coconut, finished with brown sugar and coconut oil, and topped with blueberries and bananas. A delightful beginning to any morning, and therefore never served at Count Olaf's house.

Cinnamon Maple Steel-Cut Oats

Steel-cut oats cooked with cinnamon, sweetened with maple syrup, and topped with walnuts and raisins or whatever toppings you prefer. Guaranteed to make you glad you are not a Baudelaire.

If you insist on learning the complete true story of cold, lumpy porridge as told by Lemony Snicket, you'll have no choice but to read it yourself in this book: