Unsurprisingly, for most students, this is where a dangerous obsession with just two meals comes into play.
This is the year that, being in possession of an actual kitchen as opposed to a prison issued model fitted in your first-year halls, your culinary game really takes a step up.
The year of chicken. This section is not one for the vegetarian hearted. Being a huge meat lover, chicken has always fallen short for me when placed next to the mighty beef. Steak, burger, spaghetti Bolognese, the pièce de résistance of a roast dinner – beef is the unbeatable king of the meat world. That is until I found myself faced with the financially flirtatious chicken. So cheap! So quick to cook! Chicken has really enabled me to segue from the realm of “unable to cook” to the land of “severely below average but competent” and for that I will always be grateful. Paired with a baked sweet potato (cannot believe these words are flowing so easily from me onto the keyboard) and some broccoli (5 minutes) for a family group chat worthy photo submission.
I have found it quite challenging to really climb any higher than the peak of supreme Chefdom on which I now sit, but alas, one must try. This year I am hoping to master the beef stroganoff. I know what you are thinking – don’t run before you can walk – but this is the one feature in my Mum’s cookbook that I am yet to have a stab at and Daddy most certainly did not raise a quitter. I am feeling rather hopeful for this new adventure as I now have a respectful repertoire of sausages (beans and mash), Spag bol and then smoked salmon (cream and a lemon juice) pasta under my belt.
In short, whilst University is a learning curve with regards to so many things, the challenge of cooking is a huge one for many students. If, like my housemate from last year Beth, you relish in (and are extremely talented at) cooking and baking – then this article will not only be amusing to you as you enjoy your poke bowl and fresh banana bread (Beth), but you can also read this with the knowledge that you are probably God’s favourite. For the rest of us bumbling on through the culinary experience that Uni so uncomfortably thrusts upon us – my advice for you is that it will get better. What I never realised before is that cooking with your housemates is actually a great way to get to know everyone better, it alleviates the boredom of solo cooking and you can also pinch ideas and tips for your next meal in the process. The act of a food shop went from self-inflicted torture to the highlight of my week (particularly in lockdown) as my friends and I would all pile into a car laden with reusable bags, one pound trolley coins and the energy to roast whoever was on aux. Whilst I am by no means an accomplished cook, I think my parents now no longer have to worry that I will wither away next to an empty packet of monster munch – and that is indeed progress.