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The College Cooking Guide

Updated: May 5, 2021

by: Isabella Mayfield


College is a time where kids become bad cooks. A time where it is socially acceptable to skip class, have an abnormal amount of sex, and wear the same sweatpants 7 days in a row. Mommy’s bolognaise and daddy’s burgers are now 500+ miles away. You’re starving.

For the first 5 months of your college career, you will literally live off of ramen noodles, marijuana, alcohol, and Diet Coke. Your health will plummet but you’ll be having the greatest time of your life. If you were lucky like me, you had a dormitory cafeteria that had food every minute of every hour. It’ll be your sanctuary. A place to convene with friends and a place to cry when school inevitably breaks you. Like a sweet old lady, you don’t realize how special a cafeteria is until it’s gone.

As you breeze through your first year of college, you’ll start to grow old of cafeteria food that nourished you. You’ll catch yourself saying things like, “God I can make this Tika Masala so much better if I had my own kitchen.” Or “Dude, the only way I could eat this shit is if I take a phat rip from my bong first.”. Whatever the excuse is, by the end of your time in the dorms, you’ll wish that sweet old lunch lady was getting a nasty spanking from the health department.

The most liberating feeling is when you move into a house or apartment with the friends you’ve made over the years. You’ll share many great laughs and cries that will only make you even better friends. At this time, you probably know how to make a mean spaghetti with Prego red sauce pasta or a salad with CHICKEN that’s been grilled in a pan that still has food on the bottom of it from the last go around. You feel like Anthony Bourdain when he was head chef at Les Halles. You simply are not.


Today I’m here to share with you some tips and tricks to cooking in a college house. Rule #1: If you don’t have any knives, don’t bite your carrots into little pieces; it’s obscenely pathetic. There’s no real alternative to a knife so just buy one. You’re an adult now. Rule #2: If you don’t have a cutting board, use a paper towel until you muster up the courage to go to The Dollar Store and buy one. Meanwhile, a paper towel is easy and you can throw it away afterwards. You may look a little sad but at least you won’t be hungry! Rule #3: Put a paper towel in your spinach or arugula box. It’ll keep the greens from wilting and becoming soggy and disgusting. This is a trick I sadly learned my senior year. You have no idea how much money I’ve spent on greens that I’ve had to throw out because it went bad prematurely. Rule #4: Don’t let your dishes pile up. Once you use a dish, wash it immediately. There was a point in my college house wherein every dish was dirty and nestled in the sink. To our surprise, a cockroach came out. Probably with a little toothpick and restaurant mint. It was not only insanely incomprehensible that an insect was living and breathing under our noses for so long but it showed us that eating sandwiches on our laps was pitiful.








A pan that doesn’t have a handle and was used to make eggs this morning.


I’ve been watching a Netflix docuseries called, “Cooks Table” where different chefs from all over the world are interviewed and give their life stories on how they joined their professions. The show resonated with me and told me that in order to be a good chef, you need to think creatively. I love art in general and frequent museums with my paternal grandmother. I find joy in examining and interpreting what the artist is trying to evoke in the viewer. I realized that cooking is also an art form. There’s a creative process behind every dish you eat. Like a painting, it takes time and patience and may not be right on the first try but with trial and error it becomes something extraordinary. A chef’s main objective is to induce nostalgia and emotion in a person; kind of like that one scene in Ratatouille when Anton Ego tries Remy’s ratatouille.



Anton Ego experiencing nostalgia


You want to see that expressionless look on their face as they clamp down on your fork and look at you with awe. To many, that’s the best feeling in the world. I’ve had some experiences like this and they resonate with me fondly.


Cooking brings people together. It nourishes people and creates conversation. There’s nothing more wholesome and natural than a great friend or partner and a few dishes. My advice to you is this: use the art of cooking as a way to express yourself and as a creative outlook. Send out a message to the world and share your gift. You’ll think differently about that old lunch lady freshman year.

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This post is written for Feliciana Bautista. A beautiful woman inside and out. Happy birthday, Lola! I miss you... xoxo




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