People don't seem to eat porridge any more. This is sad, for it is a good, basic food, an honest kind of meal that will fill your stomach nicely and do nothing more.

But there is one thing wrong with it. The left-overs. If you're lucky, they will be white and fluffy, easily rinsed off with water and sent down the drain. If you've been careless and let the porridge become too thick, or even worse, burn, the washing up will not be an enjoyable experience.

Keep also in mind the fact that running water and good soap were not readily available for the people of the olden days, and you can - perhaps - identify a little with the people in this story.

The following is a free translation of the Norwegian humorous tale Sju år gammal graut, or in English,

Seven Year Old Porridge

There once was a boy who was looking for a wife. This boy had a mother who was so cleanly, the floors of her house always shone like mirrors, and the dust never settled there.

Such a home the boy wanted as well, and therefore he wanted a wife who was as minded for cleanliness as his mother. Still, the question on how to find out if the eligible girls were cleanly or happy wallowing in mud he had to mull over for a long time. In the end he found a way. He wrapped one of his hands in cloths and rags, as if he had a great ache in it, and then he set off.

At the farm where he came, they received him with all the traditional treats for a suitor; with beer and with drinks, with food and with talk, and one of the first subjects for their talking was about his hand, and what was wrong with it.

Oh, he had a finger that seemed right bewitched, he said, they called it a water troll; he had seen both doctor and wise women about it, but no help could be found.

There was nothing there was no help for, the people of the farm said, excluding Death.

"Well, there is one cure," the boy said.

And that was?

It was seven year old porridge; but that seemed right impossible to get hold of, he told them.

"Bah, nothing more?" they said; "that should be easily found, for in our pots and old serving trays there are rinds that are seven and even fourteen years old," they said.

So they were cleanly people!

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