Learning to cook (or avoiding learning to cook) as a student is a very different experience for everyone, and how flatmates approach this can tell you a lot about the people you’re living with. For example, in my first year I lived with a girl who was capable of cooking full Sunday roasts and often made very complex looking cakes and other such things. There was also an Italian girl who made her own pasta from scratch (which was really something to watch!) Meanwhile I was living on sandwiches while some of my other flatmates ordered food in most nights to avoid cooking. Everyone is different, and this is particularly obvious when it comes to learning how to cook.
I made a few attempts at batch cooking in my first year; the first time I attempted a stir-fry. Unfortunately I had no concept of portion sizes at the time and ended up eating stir-fry for an entire week! I haven’t eaten a stir-fry since.
Learning to cook is made significantly easier by using decent utensils. In preparation for uni I bought a cheap tin opener from Ikea, which seemed like a great bargain at the time, until I actually tried to open a tin with it. I was making vegetarian bolognese and was trying to open a tin of chopped tomatoes; halfway through opening it my tin opener decided it had had enough and called it a day. I decided that halfway open was far enough that I could finish the job with a knife. The next thing I know, I’m wearing an entire tin of chopped tomatoes. It was in my hair, down my top, it even went in my shoes! Naturally my cake-cooking flatmate chose this minute to walk in the kitchen and was greeted by what probably looked like something off The Walking Dead. With all the red sauce and large chunks of tomato splattered all over me (and the walls), to say I looked like some sort of un-dead monster is an understatement.
Luckily, it’s not just me who’s a ditz in the kitchen (although it’s usually me). A few days ago I walked into my flat kitchen to a cloud of smoke so thick it was hard to make out the wall on the opposite end of the kitchen. Three of my flatmates were trying to get rid of the smoke through the windows and extractor fans while stopping it from spreading to the rest of the flat. Someone (they didn’t know who) had left a tray of cookies in the oven and forgotten about them, resulting in the cookies being completely cremated. It turned out to be my Greek flatmate who had been making the cookies with a friend, and after putting them in the oven they had gone back to her room and started chatting, accidentally leaving the cookies in the oven for an hour rather than the recommended 10 minutes!
Being a flat of twelve people, the kitchen is rarely empty which means that when situations like this happen (and it’s happened quite a few times) someone is usually present to save the kitchen from being set alight. The worrying thing is that our kitchen has been filled with smoke many times and not once set off the smoke detectors, which makes me incredibly nervous as my room is next to the kitchen. So if our kitchen does set on fire at any point I will be the first to get cremated! I guess I can comfort myself with the knowledge that it would be a very quick roasting….