Pease Porridge Hot

Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old.

Some like it hot,
Some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot
Nine days old.

A person can find out a fair amount about a certain place in time by understanding the nursery rhymes from that period. Take the standard rhyme “Pease Porridge Hot” (also called “Pease Pudding Hot”).

The background of the rhyme seems to be as follows. Back in the Middle Ages of England and Scotland, Porridges and puddings were one of the primary staples of the lower classes. It could be easily made with whatever vegetables were on hand and placed in a large kettle over the fire. Because dried peas (or ‘pease’ as they were known back then) could be stored with ease and were often readily available and could be had at a very low cost. What this means is that pease porridge could be the only daily meal for days, if not weeks, at a time.

To me, the rhyme reads as a sarcastic take on what would be a tiring diet of the same meal had day after day. However, there is another take that should be taken into account.

Street Vendors could make a respectable amount of money selling to laborers. Often, the quality of the porridge could be called into question, as it would be cheaper to sell nine day old porridge than it would be make a new batch. The rhyme could be interpreted as a child’s taunt to a lower quality vendor.

Technorati Tags: Peas, Nursery+Rhymes