I recently started my second year at university. Last year I lived in catered accommodation. The only times I had to scour the wastelands for sustenance was lunchtimes and Sundays. Lunchtime I generally just ate homemade sandwiches while Sundays I was lazy and got takeaway. This year I’m living in a rented house with 4 other friends, which meant I had to actually cook for myself. My assumption was that we would take it in turns to cook for each other and spent some time over the summer trying to learn more recipes beyond my current single recipe of ‘Bland Pasta’. However everyone else decided that they would all cook for themselves. I thought this would end in disaster because we’d all be getting in each other’s way at dinner time, but that hasn’t been the case.
Because none of them ‘cook’.
Oh sure, they make food. It’s not like they order take out or starve themselves. But they certainly don’t cook in the way I assumed they would. It’s all instant food that you bung in the microwave or other lazy creations. To give you some examples. One girl ate for dinner last nights takeaway rice with ketchup. The Singaporean guy only seems to eat instant noodles. The other girl actually made pasta the other day, but the sauce was some instant Dolmio nonsense. The final guy had pasta with baked beans. The sight of one of them cutting an onion, as I saw the first day we were there, has become a non-existent sight.
I am baffled by this. What strikes me as weird is how all of them are health concious in their own ways. The two guys go for jogs frequently. The girls are constantly talking about how much calories foodtypes have. And yet they eat instant crap while I, the guy who couldn’t tell a calorie from a cadillac, is making everything from base ingredients. It’s not like they don’t have time either. They spend as much time goofing off on their laptops as I do. It’s just part of their psyche to think like that. Well, I should probably say that it’s part of my psyche to not think like that, because I’m clearly the odd one out here.
I never owned a microwave. That explains an awful lot when it comes to this post. My parents refused to buy one and cooked everything from basic ingredients, frequently trying to top each other when it came to cooking and it was fucking glorious. They once joked that the reason they always made nice food so we would never want to leave home. It didn’t have quite that effect (I love you very much, mum and dad, but I needed to get out of that bloody country as soon as I was old enough.) But it has left me intolerant of instant meals on a regular basis. This has led me to cooking for myself every single day at university. And I love it. Don’t ask me why I seem to like searing animal carcasses and pouring dried, scented leaves over shaped, unleavened dough. I just do. I’m still very much a newbie at this, but I am eager to learn.
But as I find myself poring over what’s the perfect amount of soy sauce to add to my stir fry, others stomp lazilly into the kitchen to stick on a kettle and take out even more instant noodles. While I’m wondering whether that guy on the cooking forum who said “you can never have too much ginger” ever added as much as I appear to have just added, one of my housemates behind inquires me as to whether I think a fish finger sandwich would be tasty. There’s a bit of sadistic glee from me devouring my delicious meals while the others eat their crap, but that’s a short lived feeling. Because supermarkets always sell food in packets that are meant to serve more than one person.
I love to entertain. It’s what drives me through pretty much everything I do and every activity I partake in. This blog is the greatest symbol of that. If all I wanted was to share my feelings on anime (which is why I originally started blogging) I would have quit by now. Twitter gives me all I need in that aspect. What really drives me is the need to entertain. Thing is, ‘entertain’ is a very broad concept. There are very many ways to entertain people. Cooking for them happens to be one way of entertaining. You’re bringing that extra bit of enjoyment into their lives by something of your own creation. Nothing on earth gives me more pleasure than that.
The other day I cooked too much food. This wasn’t an accident. You can’t make two Chicken Kiev’s ‘by accident’. As I was there in the kitchen, searching around for the perfect bowl to mash potatoes in (problem with moving into a new house is you never realise what appliances you need to buy until it’s too late. I still don’t have a bloody wok), one of my housemates stormed in with a flustered look on her face, panicking that she had to make dinner and have a shower and all sorts of awful stuff before she went out.
“Hey, do you want some of what I’m making? It’s chicken kiev”
“Oh really? You sure?”
“If you want, i-i-i-it’s not like I made it for you or anything. I just happened to make too much”
“Thank you so much Scamp!”
That made me much happier than I ever thought it would.