Gruel, the Real Deal

Photograph from matsuyuki on Flickr

"Please, sir, can I have some more?" You know the line even if you haven't read Charles Dickens' classic Oliver Twist. But did you ever wonder if a bowl of gruel was worth asking for seconds, as the title character did?

Well, members of The Royal Society of Chemistry in London followed their curiosity, and, based on an array of Victorian-era recipes, replicated what they supposed gruel would taste like. The BBC asked some brave samplers what they thought of the concoction.

But the slushy gruel, containing oats, water, milk and onion, got a mixed response from tasters.
"It's extremely bland," said Jennifer Gilson, a retired scientist. "There's no flavour at all without the onion."
But Israel Philip, an administrator at the RSC had a different view.
"In this weather it's the best thing to have. I'd have this for breakfast every morning. It's just like porridge."

What is gruel? Wise Geek posted a decent definition with some history, but basically it's a type of porridge. Here are some recipes for different types of historical gruel I've found while poking about the web: Medieval gruel, Catholic Almond Gruel, and meat gruel.

These actually sound kind of good. Anybody a gruel fan or have a good recipe?