My mother is a professional cook, but despite this, she would rarely, if ever, cook at home.
As a result, I would say that I inherited about negative 10% of her ability in the kitchen, flailing around as effectively as a Cocker Spanial in the Atlantic Ocean.
While my younger brother works in her establishment as a sort-of manager figure, I’m the guy who mistakes ground coffee power for instant coffee, and attempts to drink it despite the horribly large chunks of coffee bean swimming around the glass.
In other words, Daniel Horowitz and the kitchen are not exactly a match made in heaven, hell, or anywhere in between.
But this year is different, or at least I told myself it would be at the beginning of the term. This year, I don’t have a fancy meal plan with unlimited, limited or any sort of nourishment on it, so I’ve been forced to fend for myself. Luckily, I am far more dexterous with a credit card than a spear or a fishing rod, so finding food has not been so difficult.
What has been difficult is preparing the food, and the means I’ve resorted to in order to supplement one of my less-illustrious skill sets.
Randy Newman may have written “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” for Toy Story, but he clearly never thought about how you could apply that to feeding yourself on a daily basis. Hitting up friends for meals and performing various reciprocal tasks like buying the booze and being just an overall fascinating study of a human being are just a couple of the ways I manage to snag a meal or two.
There’s also the option of the meal deal. From the pub down the block, that will serve me a burger and a beer for a mere £6 (about $9.60 American), which is surprisingly cheap for central Oxford. There is also lamb kebabs from the local kebab stand, the only thing to stay open after the sun goes down in jolly old England, and the occasional bowl of fried noodles from the local Chinese place.
Yes, I’m surprised I’m not dead and horribly obese, too.
But as I said, this term marks a New Year, and while it likely won’t mark a new me in the kitchen, I can see myself buying some cooking supplies and at least pretending to use them.
The last time I tried to make something complicated in the kitchen for a ‘college readiness’ class back in high school, it resembled the love child of the Loch Ness monster and Wall-E. While I won’t go that far this time, there evidently wacky items that do not include the microwave that you can use to make your life just a little easier in the intimidating culinary halls.
First there’s the George Foreman grill, which my mom would so often employ back in New York when she actually decided to cook. Simple enough, but I won’t be throwing down the money for that one.
The crock pot, some gnarly contraption that can be used to make endless amounts of mediocre beef stirfry, might be a better option, but again that would require me to buy some beef, and the last beef I bought during the beginning of last term ended up molding from neglect.
What I might actually try out though is the clothes iron. It may sound silly as first, but in our sweet off-campus apartment, there’s no end to the amount of irons and ironing boards available, and I really can’t think of a more effective to burn a grilled cheese without nuking it in the microwave and having some rubbery goodness to munch on.
Hey, it may sound infantile, but it also sounds equal amounts effective.
While I doubt my culinary skills will improve much in 2012, practice makes perfect, or in this case, at least it allows you to not cause you to burn your kitchen down and have to pay for damages. But what I do know is that college and cooking are two terms that are not, and should not, be synonymous.
Especially for me.
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