Whilst I tried to be fully experimental while we were in Thailand, totally embracing the culture and venturing forth into the murky world of alien and obscure foods (most of which were delicious), there were some moments when familiarity was necessary in order to make me feel human.
Being adventurous is essential. Exploring the culinary underbelly of wherever you are makes for a far more interesting cultural experience. But when a deep-set hangover is pressing at your temples and rising up from the pits of an altogether unhappy belly, congee, century eggs, fish sauce and chilli are seriously illness-inducing.
After a night on the infamous Khao San Road, merrily powering through chilled towers full of Thai lager and smoking away at a seemingly endless shisha pipe, such a hangover presented itself with the force of a rampaging bull. This was coupled with blocked ears, a pulled muscle in my side thanks to an enthusiastic sneeze and a decidedly painful stomach. In short, I was in no condition to try anything that looked remotely unfamiliar.
I was willing to forego breakfast altogether, hoping that by midday the symptoms may have dissipated and I could have attacked a tray full of fried rice or some mysterious grilled meats on a stick but then a shining breakfast shaped beacon of deliciousness presented itself.
A bowl full of Bircher Muesli and a selection of dried fruits and nuts and seeds with which to customise it. This was exactly what was required. Cooling, easy to digest and packed full of everything necessary in order to rid my body of the self imposed illness that was crippling me at the time.
Since then I’ve been meaning to create some of this early morning ambrosia in order to indulge on a daily basis and yesterday, after cleaning out some of the kitchen cupboards, I came across some oats and finally got round to it.
It’s so easy to make and keeps almost forever in an airtight container. Just mix a few handfuls of oats with whatever dried fruit you have (I used the leftover raisins and cranberries from the breakfast muffins). Add some nuts and seeds, a little sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon and you have your own Bircher muesli. The ratio should be about fifty per cent oats, fifty per cent tasty things. The beauty of doing it this way is that you can customise it to your exact tastes, a privilege you would pay through the nose for if you ordered it online.
If you want to enjoy it like a cold porridge, mix a couple of handfuls with milk in the evening and leave it in the fridge overnight. Come morning add a mashed banana, a grated apple and a dribble of honey and you’ve got a hearty and delicious breakfast. If you mix it up in the morning, it will be more like muesli in texture, but no less delicious.