Food for Thought

By John Roemhild, North Central University (MN)

A couple nights ago I was cooking for my roommate and myself, and I made admittedly the worst (and strangest) dinner I’ve had in quite some time. We started with an appetizer of box mix chocolate chip muffins, a la brûlé. That’s how the French say, “with the burnt.” Or at least, that’s how Google Translator tells me they say it. The problem was, I made the same mistake that I had earlier this week: using a twelve-hole muffin pan instead of a six-hole muffin pan.

Logic apparently dictates that you turn down the heat if this be the case. Logic also apparently dictates that you turn down the heat even more if using a non-stick pan instead of a regular one. Neither of these things were very apparent to me until I opened the oven door and a black cloud engulfed the kitchen, but as my roommate commented upon entering, they should have been.

Even though the muffins were most likely done a good fifteen minutes before I took them out, half of them turned out ok –– the top halves, to be precise. Since there was only six muffins’ worth of batter in twelve muffin holes, (by the way, does anyone know the proper term for this? I can’t come up with anything better than muffin holes…) the muffins were rather small, and the bottoms were cemented like charcoal bricks to the tin cups. With a little butter, however, the miniature muffin tops served as a somewhat suitable appetizer.

Then I brought out the main course: double lemon and herb-soaked lemon glazed chicken. If you’ve never tried it, it’s basically just lemon and herb chicken mistakenly left to thaw with its seasoned juices in the bag in the fridge, marinate for over a week, and put into lemon and herb flavored Chicken Helper, which, if prepared according to directions, is then topped off with a nice lemon glaze. If you decide to make it yourself, be forewarned that it can get to be a little tangy, and you can probably get food poisoning from it as well. My roommate and I were fortunate enough not to, but then again, we only tried one bite.

Then came the dessert, which I found a recipe for while randomly browsing a cookbook (ironically) intended for children: banana and cinnamon porridge. At this point, our taste buds had been mocked by the miniature muffins and wrestled into submission by the terrifying tang of the double lemon and herb lemon glazed chicken, so we took up our spoons with all the confidence of a lemming on a tall cliff and prepared for whatever horror awaited, solemnly determined to get some sort of nourishment for our still-growling stomachs. Much to our surprise, it was actually satisfying. Of all the things that should have gone wrong here, the porridge didn’t. …Still strange though.

Now, I’m lucky because my roommate has by far the bottom-of-a-pit-lowest standards for food imaginable. He will attempt to eat a rock if you tell him it’s chewy. But it still got me thinking about my astonishing lack of cooking abilities and just how many other life skills I need to learn. My goal is not to impress anyone, but I will need to learn for the future how to feed myself and a wife without risking food poisoning, and cooking for two is just one small part. I often forget my apartment is actually a classroom. Guys, household chores are only women’s work if you want to make sure you never have a woman. Girls, I didn’t just say that to get brownie points with my girlfriend, even if I think it deserves some.

More importantly, college is the place for most of us where we learn to live with another person without strangling them. I’ve had the best and worst roommates so far in college and it’s difficult with both. I’m 20 years old. It’s realistic to say I’ll most likely be married within the next five years. Am I ready for that? Living in the same space as someone else for an extended period of time can make it hard to be excited when they walk in the door, especially after noticing that they neglected to refill the Brita for the thousandth time. But that’s reality, and as silly as it sounds, I’m going to have to choose to forgive my roommate or future wife each one of those thousand times he or she does something irritating; I have to decide I’m going to be the kind of guy that loves to see that person walk in the door. I might not have any classes on the subject, but these are the things I have to learn, dirty dish by dirty dish by dirty dish.

John Roemhild is a columnist at The New Student Union. Reach him at



The New Student Union is an online magazine run by and for college students covering the issues we care about. Self-starters with great communication skills and a passion for writing should email to get involved. Official site will launch in late 2011.


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