For a lot of teenagers, university will be the first time that they have to cook entirely for themselves. You go from mum’s comforting home-cooked pies and roast dinners to desperately trying to cobble together a pasta dish, eventually resorting to beans on toast.
Your student kitchen will become the hub of you and your flatmates’ social lives, the place to gather, sit, eat, drink and talk unless you fancy all squeezing into each other’s rooms. It’s here that you begin to realise exactly how odd other people’s eating habits can be, these stereotypes being only a few that you might encounter…
The Food Snob
The Food Snob has the finest ingredients, the finest equipment and can often be found waxing lyrical about the virtues of balsamic vinegar. Can recite the exact history of where their meat came from, including the pig’s favourite colour and shoe size and refuses to shop at the supermarket because they can ‘taste the globalisation.’ Will never participate in the late-night drunken takeaway pizza round, but pointedly makes their own artichoke and goat’s cheese pizza from scratch.
The Silent Fridge Raider
Like a ninja, you never see or hear the Silent Fridge Raider, and you have no idea as to their identity. All you know is that every so often, bits of your food go missing from the fridge and no-one has any idea as to the location of your missing pesto. Due to everyone in your kitchen thoroughly denying any involvement, it is almost impossible to catch the Silent Fridge Raider, unless you are prepared to set up a complicated trap involving string and bells.
The Fridge Raider
The Fridge Raider is exactly the same as the Silent Fridge Raider but instead of denying, will unashamedly tell you what they have ‘borrowed.’ When asked about the missing cheese, the Fridge Raider will casually yawn and say “Oh yeah that was me, I used some for my toasty.” Likes to think of himself/herself as a laidback person but will go ballistic if you happen to ‘borrow’ anything of theirs.
The Vegetarian hates meat, anyone who eats meat and meat that goes within 2 metres of them. Is often to be found cooking up weird and wonderful vegetable concoctions that you can’t help thinking would be made even tastier by the addition of meat. When planning a group meal the words ‘Oh but what about the Vegetarian?’ are usually to be heard at the very end of a shopping trip, when you’ve bought nothing but meat.
Usually to be found more amongst female students, the Dieter is on a diet and will make sure everyone knows about it. Offering them a biscuit is akin to an apocalyptic disaster as they will scream “NO I CAN’T, I’M ON A DIET!” and run out of the room in case the biscuit can transmit calories through air. Can often be found cooking various WeightWatchers meals and staring with barely concealed longing at your pizza and oven chips.
You come across the Grazer in the kitchen eating the most inappropriate thing at the most inappropriate times. They’ll be in the kitchen at 3am eating Weetabix and fruit. You’ll find them cooking a roast chicken at 11 o’clock in the morning. When asked why, they will simply shrug and say, “Hungry.”
The Hopeless Case
The Hopeless Case is an individual who hasn’t adjusted to student life very well and therefore cannot cook at all. Will often approach you with questions like “Can I boil chicken?” and pleads with you to open a can for them. After about a term, they will have learnt one meal, usually pasta with sauce, which they will proudly cook everyday or alternate with ready meals.
Originally published on The Yorker 8th May 2011