Wednesday, September 17, 2008

dorm room blues

You wouldn't think that I would miss living in a shitty trailer, would you? With no air conditioning, windows that don't work, and holes in the floor, walls, and ceiling not to mention the wasps that seemed to spontaneously generate inside the house. But I miss it, and here's why:

you can't cook a damn thing in a dorm room

I consider myself a food nerd. That's right. I'm not a foodie or even a food snob. I'm a total food nerd. I require a clove of garlic, garam masala, and celtic sea salt in my kitchen at all times. My goal is to have the best-stocked home kitchen in America at some point in my life. I am fascinated equally by the finer points of pastry making and the art of fermenting. Eventually I would like to grow all of the food that I consume including meat and dairy products. Total nerd. I dream of compost.

Anyways, you can't cook a damn thing in a dorm room besides ramen noodles, and I'm way beyond even considering that as a viable meal. I have this nifty little electric skillet on which I attempt to cook veggies, but I'm fairly certain that the skillet is contraband. I also have a blender for hummus, smoothies, and pesto, but there are only so many things you can do with a blender. I can't rely on the cafeteria because I don't have a meal plan this semester (this is actually a good thing as cafeteria food was the cause of many a stomach woe last year).

So, I'm constantly at farmers' markets ogling the fine produce (and often succumbing to its charms), and when I get it back to the dorm room I discover that I have no interesting way to prepare this wonderful bounty. Thankfully, the produce around here needs little amplification. I have never been disappointed with local produce. But...what if I want to make ratatouille? Out of luck. But I have found a secret ingredient which makes everything taste better, or at least it enhances the flavors already in the food--fish sauce. This stuff is incredibly pungent and flavorful, so a few drops are quite sufficient to flavor a dish, but amazingly enough, when you add fish sauce to something, you don't taste it. You simply taste this subtle savory flavor. I think this is related to umami. For instance, I recently cooked up a beautiful butternut squash in the wonder-skillet with no seasoning but sea salt, pepper, and fish sauce. To be so simple, this was wonderful.

There's just something about squash.


green with a gun said...

Don't some dorms have a common kitchen area - like one smallish kitchen per floor of 12 rooms, or something? You need a place like that. It'd make you heaps popular, too, cooking tasty meals on your dorm's floor :)

meg said...

there is a common kitchen, but it would require me toting pots and pans and food a fair distance to be able to use it. maybe i should get a little red wagon.

green with a gun said...

Ah, well part of the skill of cooking is minimising the pots and pans you have to use.

And if it's just for you and one or two other people, you could have quite small pots and pans. They could fit with your food into one of those wicker baskets women are always carrying in movies when they go fruit and vegetables. Impractical fantasy made reality :)