I have some big news. My short story is getting published in my college’s literary review. It’s not the the biggest thing ever, but its pretty cool. Over the past six months, I’ve been writing and editing a story called “Coup de Tart” which is a kitchen noir story. It has no literary value, no symbolism, no deeper meaning, and absolutely no purpose. It’s just a really fun story about a guy who works in a kitchen getting involved with the mafia. I like to think of it as pioneering the genre of kitchen fiction, but that’s probably getting ahead of myself. Before it gets published though, I want to give you a sneak peak. Once its published, I will post a link to the whole story, or at least a link to a place where you can buy the story. Enjoy!
“Who is the money from?” she asked. She wanted me to give up Frank’s part in all this. No fucking way. I liked my job, and I liked Frank.
“I’m just the errand boy,” I said. The FDA woman turned her back to me and paced the room. Nobody said a word—all was still except her heels clacking along the floor. She spun around, a melon baller in one hand and a dough hook in the other.
“You know, I used to work for a fish supplier. You learn pretty quickly how to gut a fish in that environment. Sometimes we had so many fish, there weren’t enough knives to go around. We used all sorts of tools: spades, ice picks, combs. I once cleaned a fish with a melon baller and a dough hook. It was the easiest fish I’ve ever cleaned. These are still my tools of choice for any kind of gutting,” said the FDA woman. She held the dough hook close to my chest as the dishwasher sobbed next to me.
There was a knock at the door. One of the chefs went to answer it. As he walked to the door, I looked back at the flustered dishwasher who had all but curled into a ball. Agent Dubois was looking him up and down with her tiny, pigeon-like eyes. Her neck fat rolled over the collar of her shirt in the most intimidating way. As the chef opened the door, a flood of line cooks wielding kitchen utensils burst in.
My grandmother came to town and took me out to dinner with a few of her friends. I would normally be skeptical of going to a restaurant that a bunch of old ladies would want to go to, but since it was the Oregon Culinary Institute, I felt a bit safer about the venture.
Before I launch into this review, I must acknowledge the lack of pictures. I lost the USB cable that connects my camera to my computer, and because my camera is old, it’s memory stick doesn’t fit into my computer. Also, this review will be shorter than usual, simply because it doesn’t merit a full length review.
The Oregon Culinary Institute does four courses: appetizer, salad, main, and dessert. This is all done for $18! Of course, there’s tip and drinks to consider as well, but to get a fairly nice four course dinner for $18 is wonderful. The food is not amazing, but it’s not horrid either. The appetizer, a pea puree, was very well done, if a bit too acidic. Salads were well put together, and generally very large. Of course, the salad that advertised bits of pork belly had only four bits of pork belly that I had to dig for. Everything is local and fresh, just like everywhere else in Portland, which still impresses me. Mains were well thought out and constructed: the salmon was wonderful, if a bit small. My pasta was fairly plain and not salted well enough, but passable. My dessert was plain, and a bit dry, but it had a nice reduction of passion fruit along side, albeit not quite enough to salvage the dry fruit cake.
All in all, it’s not a bad place to go for a night of nicer food for a very cheap price. The Oregon Culinary Institute would be a perfect place for some college students to go for a nicer than average meal for a fairly cheap price. Problem is, they’re booked months in advance. Since they only do one seating at each meal, and the capacity of the restaurant is fairly small, the Oregon Culinary Institute is one of the hardest places to get a reservation in the city. I find this very counter-intuitive, as they cut themselves out of the business they could be getting a lot of: spontaneous walk-in college students looking for a great meal at a cheaper price. The Oregon Culinary Institute could be so much more, but the unfortunate part is that they don’t see the need to cater to these people: if their reservation list is full for a month, their business model is working, and nothing needs changing. It’s sad though, mostly because the prime demographic for that dining experience is cheated out of a restaurant. But hey, if you’re a college student that likes to plan dinner outings months in advance (unlikely), this is the place for you!
As a college student, finals and term papers are a necessary evil. Unfortunately, these interrupt more than just my social life; they get in the way of food. I apologize in advance for the possible scarcity of posts this month. Fear not, for there will be posts; I’ve been stockpiling some things to write about for the past month or so in preparation.
In the meantime, I thought I might fill you in on what I’ve been doing in terms of pizza lately. I think pizza is one of the best foods in the world. You can do so much with it, and it’s really easy to make. Once you have the staple ingredients, it can be a really cheap meal too. If you saw one of my recent posts on three ingredient tomato sauce, you’ll know that I’ve been toying around with some pizza recipes. I think I’ve found two combinations that are spectacular:
- 1 batch of pizza dough (recipe to follow) - 1 batch of three ingredient tomato sauce - 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced thin - large handful of fresh basil leaves - Olive oil - Kosher salt
Drain and dry the fresh mozzarella in a layer of paper towels for about 15 minutes, then slice thin. Preheat an oven to 500 degrees. Stretch out the dough on a pizza pan. Spray lightly with olive oil. Add a thin layer of the tomato sauce, about a third of the batch. Put the pizza in the oven for 15 minutes.
Pull the pizza out and put half the basil and all the mozzarella on the pizza, in that order. Spray lightly with olive oil, then a light sprinkling of salt. Put the pizza in the oven for another 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is sufficiently melted. When it comes out, cover the top with the remaining basil. Cut and serve. You can add slices of fresh heirloom tomatoes under the basil and cheese if you want.
Pizza di Prosciutto:
- 1 batch of pizza dough - 2 medium onions, sliced - 4 pieces of prosciutto, cut into thin ribbons - 1/4 cup chopped oregano - 1 handful grated parmesan cheese - Olive oil - Kosher salt - Ground black pepper
In a cast iron skillet, pour some olive oil over medium-high heat and let it heat until almost smoking. Add the onion slices and stir for a few minutes. Add a generous amount of Kosher salt. Continue to caramelize the onions over medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Preheat an oven to 500 degrees. Stretch out the dough on a pizza pan and spray with olive oil. Put the pizza in the oven for 15 minutes.
Pull the pizza out and add the caramelized onions, prosciutto, half the oregano, half the parmesan, and a sprinkling of ground pepper and kosher salt, in that order. Spray lightly with olive oil. Put the pizza back in the oven for about 2 minutes to let everything warm through and for the cheese to melt. When it comes out, top with the remaining oregano and parmesan. Cut and serve.
(by the way, this recipe is from food network magazine, and it is the best pizza dough I’ve made to date)
Mix together 3 3/4 cups of flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Make a well in the flour and pour in 1 1/3 cups warm water (very important), 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1 packet of dry active yeast. When the water is foamy, add in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and mix the dough together. Once it forms into a cohesive dough, continue kneading for about 5 minutes. The dough should be soft and spring back a little if you poke it. Form the dough into a ball, brush with olive oil, and cover with a damp rag. Set the dough in a semi-warm spot for 1 hour and a half to rise, or until it about doubles. Makes enough for two pizzas.
If you have dough that you’re not using, wrap it up and store it in the fridge. I honestly don’t know how long it keeps: I never have it around long enough to find out.
I’m starting to get bored and lazy by only writing about things that I already know a lot about. Yes, I could prattle on about shawarma for hours, or give you a complete rundown on making your own ginger ale, but I’m writing for an audience damnit! I can’t just wax poetic about all the things I like and expect my readers to follow along like lemmings following a piece of cheese off a cliff.
This is where you come in, dear reader. There’s a nice little box on the left where you can ask me questions. Drop me a request for a recipe or a review, or even if you’re just curious about some type of food or specific ingredient you can ask me about it in that box. Chances are you’ll inspire me to do some research about something I haven’t done. It’s a great opportunity for both you and me to expand our knowledge of food together. Oh dear God, did I really just write something that cheesy?
As many of you know, I work as a food writer for my college newspaper. My editors are lovely people, but sometimes I wonder if they know how much it costs to write about food every week when I’m not getting reimbursed. Usually its fine, because I would probably spend money on food anyway. But this week, since we have two weeks to write our articles (there’s no paper printed during spring break), my editors had a brilliant idea: instead of reviewing just one restaurant, you should review five. Five? Are you shitting me? You just pulled that number out of your ass! Do you know how much it costs to eat at five restaurants, especially when the free bus service is not running over spring break? With this in mind, I promptly found a bit of a loophole in their idea: they don’t specify sit down restaurants per se, just restaurants.
Flipping frantically through my dictionary, I found the definition of the word “restaurant”. It reads, “an establishment where meals are served to customers.” By this logic, food carts may technically be considered “restaurants”. Since the food cart culture in Portland is so important, my editors loved the idea. I decided to specialize and find the best shawarma/middle eastern food carts in Portland. My next challenge was figuring out how to do this without spending money for the bus.
On the Thursday before break, I promptly slept through my morning class, rolled out of bed at 11 (just as it was ending), and hauled myself out to the bus to go downtown for a shawarma breakfeast/brunch/lunch/afternoon snack. My plan had originally been to go to class and study for the midterm I would be taking the next day, but that agenda was thrown out very quickly. As the bus rolled into town, I flipped through my meticulously planned itinerary. I would hit four shawarma places on Thursday afternoon, and the final one on Friday night for dinner.
My first shawarma stop was a place called Sabria’s on 5th and Oak. We don’t need to talk much about this stop: it was only noon and she was out of lamb, which I believe to be a sin against shawarma. She did, however, have chicken, so I decided to try it anyway. It was only $5, so I figured it was worth a go. Sadly, the shawarma was unremarkable. The chicken was juicy and perfectly cooked, but other than that, the shawarma was average. Yeah, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that good either. I got what I paid for.
After a disappointing first round, I trudged up to the 10th and Alder set of food carts, looking for Ali Baba’s Turkish Kitchen. Unfortunately, this silly named food cart was nowhere to be seen. I improvised and went to another shawarma cart nearby, Sheish Kabob Grill. This was the real start of my day of shawarma. They cooked lots of tiny strips of lamb to perfection, and added plenty of fresh lettuce and tomato. I could’ve done with a bit more onion and tatziki, but it was nice to have a very basic shawarma, focusing mainly on the flavor and textural differences of lamb, lettuce, tomato, and pita, with everything else serving as an accent. At $8.50, it was more expensive than I would have liked. That being said, they did give me a lot of lamb. With this shawarma in my hands, I walked off to the next stop.
Fortunately, Sultan’s Kitchen is on 4th and Hall, near PSU, so I could walk off the first two shawarmas as I went for my third. I was particularly excited to learn that I would be getting a doner here, not a shawarma, and it would only be $6. A doner is like a cross between a gyro and a burrito; It’s a Turkish street food I came to love during my time in Istanbul. I had high hopes biting into this doner, and it did not disappoint. Coating the exceptionally thin pita was a thick layer of spicy sundried tomato sauce, very typical in Turkish cuisine. The lamb pieces were nice and thick; they encapsulated everything good lamb should be. To compliment was some lettuce, onion, tomato, parsley, and a nice thick tatziki. The chef even poured more on the top of the doner after he had toasted it under a panini press. All the ratios of ingredients were spot on, and they melded together seamlessly to make a wonderful doner. This doner took me right back to Istanbul.
Feeling generally content with food, my life, and the whole world, I meandered my way back north to El Masry Egyptian on 3rd and Washington. This place is a unique food cart, with a small seating area and a roof, which is especially appreciated. The gyros they do are gigantic. Seriously, they resemble a rolled up Sunday newspaper. I got the standard, a lamb gyro, which is essentially the same as a shawarma. The nice thing about this gyro was there were olives in it! I love olives, and to have them with lamb in any Middle Eastern cuisine just feels right for me. The veggies were also very fresh and crisp. Other than that, it was a fairly standard gyro. The tatziki was actually a bit less garlicky than I would prefer, but for $7, this giant gyro is a good deal if you want a lot of lamby goodness.
My fifth food cart stop was completed the next day, right after I had finished taking the midterm that I didn’t study for because I was eating shawarma. It went very well, actually. Maybe this could be a new development in gastronomic science: shawarma helps you to prepare for midterms. I’ll be waiting by my phone for the results. Meanwhile, I should probably stop rambling and tell you about my last shawarma stop.
(This is currently my desktop picture).
I’ve actually been to Adam’s a few times before. It sits just a block away from Voodoo Donuts on 3rd and Ash. I got my usual: a lamb shawarma with everything. At $9, it was my most pricey shawarma, but it was well worth it. A lamb shawarma with everything includes all the standard fare: lamb, tomato, lettuce, tatziki, hot sauce, pita, etc., but Adam’s puts in hummus, pickles, and french fries as well. Let me take a brief detour here, because french fries in shawarma are important to discuss. In the Middle East, french fries are amazingly popular for completely unknown reasons. Most doner shops in Turkey put their cooked fries under the spit of lamb to soak up the lamb juices that drip down. They are served in, on, or with virtually everything no matter where you go. To have a shawarma with french fries in it is a sign of true authenticity. And besides that, it’s just delicious! Adam’s hummus is wonderful too, and I am always treated with a little extra for my continued patronage. The garlic sauce is so beautiful: it’s thick, creamy, and very garlicky, with a perfect amount (a lot) incorporated into the shawarma. It mixes a bit with the hot sauce and the hummus to create a really interesting concoction at the bottom of your shawarma. The veggies are fresh, the pita is warm, the lamb is served in big chunks: everything about this shawarma is wonderful. It’s a vibrant mix of everything I know and love about Middle Eastern cuisine. I go to Adam’s every time my friends are off buying their pathetic looking maple bacon donuts at Voodoo. The looks on their faces when I return with a gigantic, mind-bendingly delicious shawarma is priceless. Sometimes, they’ll want to trade bites of donut for bites of shawarma. I’m usually a reasonable man, but I get downright protective when it comes to Adam’s shawarmas. ”Fuck off!” I’ll proudly say, “Get your own shawarma!” I highly recommend, if you even have a vague interest in shawarmas and only a few minutes in Downtown, that you go get a shawarma from Adam’s. You will be pleasantly fulfilled.
Thus ends my two days of binge eating shawarmas in downtown Portland. It was fun, I endured obscene amounts of bloatedness from eating four shawarmas in one afternoon on Thursday, and I have learned a lot about the shawarma scene in Portland. That said, I don’t think I’ve eaten this much in weeks. It took me two days to work up the courage to roll my fat ass out of bed to write this article. But in the end, it was the call of the shawarma that led me out of my food induced stupor and into the light of culinary nirvana.
Really? Mac and Cheese again? But I’ve already had Kraft Blue Box five times this week. It’s such a pain in the ass to be a college student sometimes. I can’t tell you how tired I get of the same food. Before coming to college, my aunt would always tell me about how often she ate Mac and Cheese, to which I arrogantly thought “Ha! That won’t happen to me.” Well, it did, simply because of my lack of money. The grocery store is usually such a whimsical place where I can buy anything I want, but not when I only have $2. Since its Fred Meyer though, you can get a lot for $2. In fact, I bet you could completely transform your Mac and Cheese with just a few extra dollars. I will at least try, in the interest of making my meals better.
1. Herb and Garlic Mac and Cheese
Really simple, since herbs and garlic are very cheap. Just saute some minced garlic in a pan with olive oil for about a minute. Dump it into the finished Mac and Cheese with some chopped parsley and chives. If you’re feeling as fancy as I was, you can even throw in some red pepper flakes for a bit of spice. It’s a really easy fix, for not a lot of cash. And come on, garlic makes everything better.
2. Chipotle Mac and Cheese
Again, this one is simple. Pick up a small can of chipotles in adobo on the Mexican aisle and finely mince about two chipotles (amount will vary depending on spice tolerance). Throw them into the completed Mac and Cheese with some chopped cilantro and some slightly crushed tortilla chips. It’s really a flavorful departure from the norm.
3. Bacon and Pepper Mac and Cheese
It’s as easy as it sounds. Cut about half a package of bacon into chunks and dump it into a frying pan on medium heat. The fat will render out and cook the bacon perfectly. Cook until slightly crispy, with a little brown around the edges of the slices. Add this, plus a ton of black pepper, to the finished Mac and Cheese. Your taste buds will thank you. I actually used an entire pack of bacon when I first attempted this, but I quickly learned that this is simply too much bacon. ”Too much bacon!” you may say with horror, “There’s no such thing!” While I usually agree, I can’t help but think that when the amount of bacon in your Mac and Cheese is greater than the amount of actual Mac and Cheese, you’ve gone a bit overboard and are tempting fate to give yourself a heart attack. So trust me, don’t use an entire pack of bacon.
Note: I tried a fourth Mac and Cheese (Extra Cheesy) that ended in disaster. I couldn’t stop adding more dairy products. There ended up being a whole stick of butter, 3/4 cup of milk, five huge handfuls of shredded cheese, and a good 1/4 cup of sour cream (worst idea ever). If you really want to make it extra cheesy, just add a bit more butter and a tiny dollop of sour cream. The end result was so milky and horrid that I didn’t even bother taking a picture.
More important note: Don’t be an idiot and follow the directions for cooking times on the box. If you cook the macaroni for the full 8 minutes, it will turn to mush! Take it off once its aldente, at about 4 or 5 minutes. The pasta will continue to cook once its out of the pot. Also, salt the water before putting the pasta in. Otherwise, it will just be bland.
I was working on some homework, when an odd craving struck me. ”I need some mashed potatoes,” I said to myself. It was actually quite awkward, as my roommate was reading quietly on his bed when I had my epiphany. Without a moment’s hesitation, I stuffed my book and my wallet into my pockets and set off for Fred Meyer. I soon found out that you can make mashed potatoes for really cheap! I got two pounds of yukon gold potatoes for $1.40, and all together, my total was $6. After I was done making one batch, I found that the only ingredient I lacked in order to make a second was the potatoes; everything else was left over from when I made them earlier. The second batch of mashed potatoes cost me about $1.50. During that time, I had plenty of time to experiment with a recipe. Here are my findings:
- 2 pounds of potatoes - 5 cloves of garlic, minced - 6 tablespoons butter - 1 cup buttermilk - 1/2 cup chives or green onions - Kosher salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons of pepper, and I honestly didn’t pay attention to how much salt I used)
Wash the potatoes lightly under cold water. Drain and cut into even pieces, usually quarters. Put the potatoes in a pot and just cover them with water. Put the pot over medium high heat and let the potatoes cook until fork tender. This time will vary depending on how big your potatoes are, what kind of potatoes they are, how hot your stove really is, etc. Just keep checking every few minutes. The fork should go in and come out easily. Don’t worry about overcooking them too much: you can’t overcook mashed potatoes unless you’re really careless and leave them on the stove for hours…not that I’ve ever done that, especially not while watching YouTube videos of cats…
Meanwhile, mince your garlic, chop your chives, and get a colander ready for some potatoes. Once the potatoes are done, drain them well and take the pot off the heat. Return the potatoes to the pot and add in half the butter, mashing with a potato masher until you arrive at the consistency you like. Once you have this consistency, switch to a wooden spoon. Then add in everything else, except the buttermilk. Add this slowly, incorporating as you go. Modify the recipe as you see fit, depending on your taste for how creamy, garlicky, etc., you like your potatoes.
I would usually serve this as a side, but I just ate it on its own. Probably not the healthiest thing, but I was hungry and didn’t want to go to the cafeteria.
This is just a brief announcement for all of my followers and friends. I have recently been given a job as a food writer for my college newspaper. And here’s the cool thing: they actually pay me! I am supremely excited to be paid to do what I love. This gives me a great opportunity to get more readership, exposure, experience, and knowledge of the wonderful world of food.
But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean I’ll be neglecting my blog. Since food articles in a college newspaper tend to be short (about 300 words), I will use my blog to expand on articles already published in the Pioneer Log. I am not allowed to use anything I’ve already written on my blog for the newspaper, so there will constantly be new material. I plan to update at least once a week, more if time permits. Although my posts may be similar to my articles in the newspaper, they contain more detail and have more of my own personal spin on the topic. Therefore, the will ultimately be different from what I write for my column in the paper.
I want to thank all of you for reading my food blog. It’s always so encouraging to know somebody else has a passion for good food, and I love to be able to share mine.
Final note: if there is anything that you would like to request that I write about, or even if you just have a quick question about something food related (or about me personally), you can ask me in the “Ask me about something” tab to the left.
As an avid soul food lover, I am always looking forward to a soul food dining experience. Tonight, my college cafeteria attempted to provide such an experience by putting out sub par mac and cheese, poorly executed fried chicken, and honestly some of the worst etouffee I have ever experienced. I will recount the agony for your reading pleasure.
For those of you who don’t know, etouffee is a dish comprising of a dark roux (a butter and flour sauce), the holy trinity (bell peppers, onions, and celery), some simple spices, and whatever meat you have on hand (usually shrimp or crawfish, and maybe some poultry). It’s an intensely flavorful and rich dish, served with white rice. I’ve had and loved many etouffees in my life, especially ones with dark rouxs.
But now, we come to the agonizing part. My college did “soul food night” and decided to add etouffee to their menu. That should’ve been reason enough for me to stay away and eat some Cheetos and M&M’s instead. But I felt optimistic, and since this feeling usually doesn’t linger very long with me, I wanted to at least use it to the best of my abilities. As I grabbed a bowl of etouffee, the man behind the counter chortled, “It’s really good.” ”Great,” I thought, “if the cook is proud of it, then it will probably be alright.” Oh how wrong I was.
The etouffee was devoid of roux; there was absolutely none. Instead, it was just a gloppy, gruesome mess that had all the texture of snot. This goes against the very definition of an etouffee. To not have a roux, which acts as both a thickener and flavor agent, is like making a pizza without dough. Next, their holy trinity was distinctly horrid. A holy trinity should be sweated down and slightly soft, but still retain flavor and a bit of texture. This is arguably one of the simplest things to do in soul food cooking. All of the components of their trinity were mushy and bland. There is no excuse for this. Shrimp was the preferred meat in this etouffee, as per usual. Unfortunately, due to the delicate nature of shrimp and the ignorant nature of the cafeteria, the shrimp were overcooked and stringy. The rice used was long grain basmati, which definitely does not marry well with an etouffee. Traditionally, it is served with white, medium grain rice, which has a fluffier texture and a less obtrusive flavor. Why they would put basmati in their etouffee is beyond me. The worst offense, though, was the absolute lack of flavor. There was nothing other than a faint hint of pepper. Only after I added copious amounts of Tabasco did it taste like anything. Could it pain them to add a few herbs or some cayenne?
This was the antithesis of a good etouffee. In all honestly, it was a n’etouffee.
Lately, I’ve been gearing up for my finals which begin now in less than a week. So as I sauntered back to my room after class on Friday, I began to ponder what sorts of food I would use to kick myself in the ass enough to study and stay awake for long nights of paper writing. That paper on The Problem of Evil for Religion isn’t going to write itself without at least a liter of coffee and a family sized bag of Doritos. Of course, I blew most of my budget last month on a saxophone, so I have barely any money to cook with, since I’m setting aside a decent reserve for Christmas shopping.
Once I was in the groove of writing my Philosophy paper, I didn’t want to be interrupted. Of course, this paper being the final, it took most of the day to write and edit to perfection. I made it most of the way through a box of Earl Grey, and halfway through the process, my roommate offered to go out and buy me some food. Of course, I had no intention of eating anything too junky, so I told him to buy me a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. I will admit, since I’ve been at college, these have quickly become a staple if my diet, especially after 10:30 at night. Don’t judge me just yet; they’re a delicious processed chip product. The paper was finished just as the last of the Cheeto dust was scooped from the very bottom of the bag.
After the paper, I was fairly worn out. My bed called out to me with it’s sultry voice, just the way a pot roast calls from inside the oven. Sleep could not be resisted, and I soon fell into a sleep filled with dreams of sausage, peppers, and onions. Upon waking up, I was greeted by weak coffee and runny scrambled eggs from the cafeteria; this demotivated me even more from my day of study. And even more of a sin for the cafeteria was the lack of bacon. I can almost always count on them to have bacon, but this morning was one of the few exceptions. Instead, I resigned myself to eating the vegan sausage patties, which taste nothing like sausage, but actually are fairly good when you don’t think of them as sausage. I still had 80 pages of Ovid to read, and another paper to write about the significance of roads and driving in Never Let Me Go (a wonderful read, by the way). Then I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was one of those feelings you get in your stomach where you know you just ate something not worth eating, and it’s weight is dragging you closer and closer to the floor. Never get that feeling? Oh, well then I suppose it’s just me. Nevertheless, I sought to cure this bad food blues.
Rummaging through the fridge, I remembered the Irish Whiskey cake my mother had baked for me over Thanksgiving break. I brought it back to Portland on the train, to the great expense of having some of my underwear smell like whiskey upon unpacking. Fortunately, the cake was still fairly well preserved. With a piece of cake in mind, I looked up to where my knife was to find that it was still dirty from when I last cut off a piece of cake. Of course, the communal kitchen ran out of dish soap about a week ago and nobody has bothered to replace it; me, being the good dormmate that I am, decided to leave it for someone else to take care of. I had no idea how long that knife had been sitting there, so I ran it under hot water for a minute before cutting a large chunk of cake. Hot water can do wonders for cleaning things in the absence of soap.
Now with cake in hand, I suddenly felt the need for a drink. A few weeks earlier I had the pleasant surprise of an early holiday present: a case of a dozen gourmet sodas (Avery’s) arrived for me in the mail room, all the way from Connecticut. Now I was down to the last two: a sarsparilla and a dark ginger ale. The choice was devastating, as I loved both flavors, but I eventually buckled under and chose the ginger ale. A nice gingery taste, but far too sugary for me.
Drink and cake in hand, I sat down to begin writing my next essay. It went for about ten minutes before the combination of cake and soda hit me, and I was feeling as if I’d ingested a whole bag of sugar. Salt was necessary. Of course, my chips had been gone for quite some time, but my roommate had left his bag of chips lying on the shelf, in plain view. This is a mistake he will never make again I’m sure. With ravenous fury, I scooped out a handful of chips, doused them with Sriracha, and munched on them, satisfied with the perfect ratio of salt to chip, and the delightfully fresh crispyness. By the time the bag was reduced to crumbs, I had lost all dignity and decided to shovel the crumbs into my gaping maw as well.
It was now well over two hours since I was supposed to start my paper, and my only progress was writing my name and the date. Chip and cake crumbs lay around me, on the desk and on the floor. There were now only four hours until dinner in the cafeteria, and I contemplated whether I wanted to brave horrid food or to just skip dinner and buy a bag of cheetos. The answer should’ve been clear. But I decided to really settle down with that paper, at least to get an outline and pull some quotes from the book. This, of course, requires a cup of tea. I would drink Lipton if my roommate’s girlfriend wasn’t around - she’s a tea snob, and she gives me endless shit for drinking such “inferior tea”. But alas, I reached into the recesses of my shelf and pulled out the last of the earl grey. I couldn’t tell you anything about the tea other than it’s organic and tastes good. With tea in hand, I finally began writing.
I ended up writing through dinner, as well as almost missing an important meeting I had for a Shakespeare group I’m in. Of course, this meant I would be subsisting on Cheetos once again, not that I had a problem with it. It was a late night, as predicted, and I just ended up skimming Ovid, muttering to myself “yeah, I sortof know that one”.
The next day I woke up with my stomach growling. This was not just an “I’m hungry” growl; it was a “why did you torture me?” growl. I think the supplementary bowl of rice and hot sauce did it some good that afternoon. I was gastronomically revived. Then I remembered that I still had all of my studying to do for finals, which were now looming only five days away. Sorry stomach, but this may be a rough week. I can see roast duck at the end of the tunnel, as well as a Greek salad and some bleu cheese. But for now, I will quiet my stomach with Cheetos, cake, and tea, and get to work studying.