Growing up, I didn’t like oatmeal. I was more of a Cap’n Crunch kid. However, from time to time my mom would serve it up for breakfast, and she was the kind of mom who made you eat what she cooked, whether you liked it or not.
So I ate it, but I still didn’t like it, and all the cinnamon and maple syrup with which she garnished it could not change my mind or the epithet I bestowed upon the awful stuff—quietly, of course.
I called it “glop,” a word Webster’s defines as 1. a thick, semiliquid substance (such as food) that is usually unattractive in appearance, and 2. tasteless or worthless material. At that point in my life those denotations rang true with my connotations.
These days, I’m older. Whether or not I’m wiser or more mature is a matter of debate among my friends and family, but I like to think I’ve learned a few things since then. One of the things I’ve learned—please don’t tell my mom—is that I like oatmeal after all, and “glop” has become kind of a term of endearment.
In fact, I believe Webster’s would do well to update glop and its various forms in its lexicon. The word is rather descriptive, after all, and quite useful in any discussion of oatmeal or similar mush-like substances. Glopularity is a measure of its texture: the less texture it has, the higher its glopularity.
For example, I’ve found that steel-cut oats make a somewhat less glopular oatmeal than rolled oats do. It has more texture; one can actually discern the individual grains in the mouth. They are even bite-able, and deliver a tiny but satisfying pop when chomped upon.
Rolled oats, on the other hand, make a much mushier, high-glopularity mush. If you prefer a finer, less toothsome glop, rolled oats are probably your breakfast choice.
As for added elements, I’m something of a traditionalist—apples, raisins, cinnamon, maybe a touch of honey or maple syrup, and milk—are about the limit of my culinary exploration of glopdom, though I have heard tales of folks who suspend all sorts of things, sweet and savory, within the glopular medium. If you’re interested in a tour of glop’s possibilities, the Internet no doubt contains plenty of suggestions.
One suggestion I recently received was to suspend myself in a bathtub full of glop, as a treatment for an ongoing allergic reaction to something, one of the symptoms of which is very itchy hives. The cause is still a mystery, but I’m told a glop bath is an effective treatment for soothing itchy skin. That may be, but I can’t quite bring myself to climb in.
My wife thinks I’m crazy to endure the itching without even trying the remedy, and while she may well be correct, the fact is that there’s something about climbing into a vat of oatmeal that really creeps me out. I can’t put my finger on the specific cause; maybe it’s the quicksand-like texture I imagine it will have. On the other hand, it could be the instant oatmeal pouches it comes in. Instant oatmeal: truly glopular. Who wants to climb into a big bowl of that? Yech. IMHO. (In My Humble Opinion, for you acronym newbs like me. But that’s another story.)
I know my imagination has—probably—turned a perfectly fine skin treatment into sort of a nightmare, but . . . nevertheless. As you might have guessed, the oatmeal bath remedy has, so far at least, not been an option. I may yet be driven to it. Until then, I’ll carry on putting the oatmeal in me, rather than the reverse.
Oatmeal has become one of my favorite—and probably healthiest—breakfast options, which is a really good thing for reasons that will become clear momentarily. Other than that, oatmeal has traditionally made an appearance in only one other area of my diet: my lovely wife Carlena’s fresh-baked ultimate oatmeal cookies.
Carlena is a talented baker who has turned out a multitude of amazing desserts and other baked goods. She has had to make some changes since we discovered, in the same medical search for the cause of the hives, my allergy to wheat. This came as a shock to us both. As a life-long sandwich eater, my lunch has always included bread of some kind wrapped around a filling of meat, cheese and veggies, or maybe some tuna salad and lettuce, or possibly just good old PB and J. The oatmeal I eat is gluten-free, but you can’t make a decent PB and J sandwich with the stuff. Sure, you can suspend those things in it if you really want to—I haven’t—but even so, glop is glop
We very quickly found that, while there is an abundance of gluten-free products available at the local supermarket, we consider it a lucky day when we find one we like. So many of them contain xanthan gum, which I guess approaches the action of gluten in some way. We tried several, and found the same unpleasant aftertaste in each. After years of Carlena’s baked goods, there was nothing that even came close to what we were used to.
Trouper that she is, Carlena has made it her business to find or create gluten-free goodies for me. She’s already come up with a pretty good version of her oatmeal cookie. Well . . . she did once; she hasn’t been able to repeat it since. Why? you might ask. My brilliant wife is not in the habit of taking notes as she creates, and despite her confidence that she could successfully repeat the process, the next batch, a week or so later, was like nothing so much as petrified glop.
Bread that doesn’t immediately fall to pieces around a sandwich is also a challenge to the gluten-free baker. Gluten-free bread is by and large the opposite of glopular, it is—and here’s another word Webster’s might add to its lexicon to facilitate discussion of modern gluten-free baking—crumbular, i.e. possesses high crumbularity. The trick to making good gluten-free bread is to reduce its crumbularity to the point that it holds up to a sandwich.
I’m sure she’ll find a way to do it, if anyone can. Each attempt is a little less crumbular than the previous one; she’s on the trail. Holmes-like, she verbalizes her thinking as she puts together her thoughts, and I, her Watson, look on attentively and nod in what I believe are the correct places, all the while hoping she doesn’t call on me and ask a question.
She doesn’t, of course; though she is by profession a teacher, this lecture is for her benefit, not mine. In this realm I am merely the faithful hound, the second-banana (okay, the guinea-pig), and pretending I understand is good enough.