As one of our national dishes and the cornerstone of hearty breakfasts, Scotland’s love affair with porridge dates back more than 5,000 years.

Described by Robert Burns as the “chief” of Scottish food, the simple staple has gained new-found fame in recent years as a versatile, carb-packing ‘super food’ fit for the 21st century.

Thanks to its trendy status, what was the diet of remote Highland crofters has increasingly found itself jockeying for position on the menus of hipster cafes in London and across the length and breadth of the country.

Now, thanks to social media, its upswing in popularity has extended to the continent, with fashionable Spanish urbanites hell-bent on swapping their churros for hearty bowls of porridge. 

Turn back the clock even five years and the likelihood was that you wouldn’t find porridge listed on any ‘top 10 foods you need to try if you visit Scotland’ featured on travel websites directed at Spanish audiences. 

READ MORE: Herald View: The stirring case for good old-fashioned porridge

And yet now, porridge bowls are a near ubiquitous sight on the Instagram pages of foodies from Santander to Seville, with new recipes being churned out constantly by chefs and bloggers - many of whom report having first stumbled across the dish while having breakfast on holiday in the UK.

Commenting on the craze back in January, Hola!, Spain’s version of Hello! Magazine, noted: “If we think of the most typical desserts with oats, it is likely that the image of the classic porridge appears in our imagination. A dish of Celtic origin, it was until very recently unknown in Spain, but has in the last few years experienced a boom, in part, thanks to the social media.”

The magazine’s classic porridge recipe encourages people to “get the bagpipes out” and start the day with a typical Scottish breakfast dish that is “nothing more than oatmeal with milk and some fruit”. 

In her cooking blog Directo al Paladar (Direct to the Palate), Spanish chef Carmen Tía Alia published a recipe for porridge with caramelized mango alongside her belief that it is “the most complete breakfast”.

She wrote: “Many years ago, during the time I lived in the United Kingdom, I discovered and became intensely fond of porridge and prepared it for breakfast every weekend. On my return to Spain a few years ago it was not easy to find oatmeal here, but now the panorama has changed and I go back to having Scottish porridge with caramelized mango for breakfast.”

On World Porridge Day in 2021, Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia examined what they deemed the “unstoppable popularity” of porridge in the country, before concluding that it was down to the Scottish staple having “multiple health properties” as well as “great photogenicity” and the fact it is both versatile and easy-to-prepare. 

“Despite its simplicity, this breakfast has accumulated more than half a million searches on social networks under the hashtag #porridge”, La Vanguardia wrote.

“Instagram and Pinterest accounts are increasingly saturated with photographs of influencers who share the most colourful, creative, healthy and original breakfasts. 

“Among the most popular morning snacks is porridge, and although its name in English may give the impression that it is a very elaborate dish, this is not the case.”

Another reason for its popularity in Spain is the fact that porridge often finds itself soaked in a sense of Scottish shortbread tin-esque glamour as the dish which solves the mystery of how a Scotsman has got so much energy to dance in his kilt or is able to endure the harsh Highland winters - thus making for a unique selling point.

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Porridge’s rise to prominence has also extended to Italy, thanks in part, it seems, to influencer Virgie Talks, who Business Insider noted had “reinvented the recipe so it can be eaten cold in summertime”. Her recipes include fake puffed rice porridge, snickers porridge with chocolate and peanut and Matcha tea porridge with chocolate. 

Italian food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso has also gotten hip to the porridge trend, publishing a recent piece charting its “great rise” from “Scottish pride to international star”.

Off the bat, the magazine reminds its readers that us Scots have the Romans to thank for our ‘other’ national dish by having the intuition in the 1st Century AD to import oats to feed their horses.

“Maybe it was the athletes or the Millenials with their mania for sharing any new discovery, the fact is that between 2005 and 2010 porridge became an integral part of social network feeds. But before that it was, is and always will be the symbol of Scotland”, Gambero Rosso noted.