Of Spice and Men
Somewhere out there, the culinary gods are weeping. As someone who would probably make a better meal by being cooked than by cooking, I dare say I have been less than vigilant regarding my nutritional needs. Freezer-burned waffles, Gatorade, and a granola bar? Most important meal of the day. Cheese crackers and ginger ale? Dinner, third course. (For anyone who’s curious, courses one and two were a red gummy bear and orange gummy bear, respectively.) Since I don’t have the necessary patience for in-dorm agriculture, and the only game to be hunted around campus are squirrels and mysteriously human-like six-foot beavers, it appears I will have to start preparing my own food before my cash flow gets dammed.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the food here. The soup is delicious and served Nazi-free, and there’s so much instant food in LaVerde’s that a nuclear explosion in the freezer aisle would probably do nothing more than rain ready-to-eat Hot Pockets all over New England. Still, I doubt my parents will take kindly to my somewhat liberal use of their credit card in the name of being able to eat a modified version of the Subway diet (the modification being that grams of fat are replaced by tastiness as the key variable).
Even though some of the best food I’ve had here has been free, I can only retain my dignity for so long while mooching for handouts. The obvious solution, at least to me, would be to take advantage of the fact that the human body can survive for a week or two without food and simply order an extra-large pizza twice a month. The somewhat less obvious solution is actually learning how to prepare my own food.
As unpalatable and potentially dangerous as the thought may be, I might as well learn to cook at some point in my life. It may be appropriate to give you some idea as to exactly how monolithic the idea is. I stick to cold cereal not because I dislike oatmeal, but because I’m of the sort that would probably manage to burn one half and underheat the other. My greatest culinary achievement was successfully making a single stir-fry. That was several years ago and I still had to check with my parents constantly to make sure I was stirring properly. When the microwave at home broke down for a week, for every non-cold-cereal meal, I would try to make something, only to remember that I could not reheat or cook it without the microwave. I nearly starved.
So when I tell you that in order to function in college, I have decided to at least try to cook, I want you to understand my full meaning. I intend to start small, perhaps by preparing the occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich (on toast instead of bread) for lunch, maybe some eggs that start out fried or poached before mysteriously and invariably becoming scrambled. If I’m feeling intrepid, I’ll try my hand at making ready-to-bake cookies, just to make sure that I don’t possess some kind of bizarre anti-cooking aura that will cause the oven to engulf me in flames if I get too close. I’m sure that before long, I’ll be preheating with gusto and using a knife to cut food rather than spread it. I’ll have to call my parents to let them know that the dramatically shorter credit card bill does not mean I’m on a hunger strike, although the $300 charge from the Poison Control Center will probably tip them off.
With that plan of action in mind, it looks as if I’ll have to gradually cut myself off from microwave use, which is a shame, indeed. As it happens, I have since my first column sampled the rather delectable microwave s’more (since the campus housing administration probably wouldn’t take kindly to a campfire in the hall), thanks to a friend who was nice enough to take pity on my un-s’mored taste buds. I’ll have to cook her something to return the favor once I’ve managed to grind my cooking skill up from “Newbie” to “Master and Commander of All That Is Edible.” Hopefully, that time will come before the Hot Pocket Armageddon. If it doesn’t, I may very well succumb to the warm embrace of flaky crust and cheesy filling.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some shopping to do. Yes, I’m going grocery shopping. Try not to faint.