Today’s piece is by member and blog editor Alina Celeste.
I’ve sung Pease Porridge Hot with my students for years, usually while emphasizing patterns and rhythm with clapping or rhythm sticks. I often end with a long, silly “ewwww YUCK!” that I got from member Marci Bernstein when we taught Music Together.
This catchy, malleable classic has a long history. So long in fact, that it’s origin is unknown. A common food of the poorest people in medieval England, “pottage” was a stew consisting of mostly beans, a grain and some bacon fat.
It often served as dinner and breakfast for families lucky enough to eat twice in a day. The word “porridge” came into use in the 17th century, and quickly replaced the older “pottage” so it is logical to assume the song came about sometime after that. The first known publication of it, in a Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme Collection was in 1760 and it has been sung regularly since! Variations include “bean porridge,” and “pease pudding.” There are also several game and riddle versions of it. I recently did a YouTube video of this song, as I’m always looking for a reason to sing about food!