My first roommates in college were self-proclaimed “foodies.” They cooked up creative dishes and dined at innovative restaurants regularly. Sadly, my diet was much, much less refined. How bad was it, exactly, you ask?
Well, I was cleaning out my photo albums recently and found quite a few culinary snapshots from that time in my life. Mind you, this was before food photography really took off. These photos were taken out of a genuine sense of pride — which makes it all the sadder. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane…
Let’s begin with a typical meal of mine in college: leftover salad from Smart Alec’s (a cafeteria-style joint with a healthy focus) and chicken dinosaurs… served with a spot of French dressing if you please.
Another “semi-homemade” meal of mine: store-bought Vietnamese fancy pork, drizzled with soy sauce and sandwiched by foccaccia (locally made by the now-closed Sufficient Grounds and totally delicious). Fancy indeed.
One thing I did truly believe I did cook well were potatoes. Specifically, I felt I’d achieved a pretty spot-on rendition of the fried potatoes from Open Sesame in Long Beach. I essentially peeled potatoes, fried them stovetop, and drenched them in lemon juice and cilantro. It’s a failproof recipe, but I was proud all the same.
My potato-frying skills are again showcased here, alongside a Manwich. Yes, a Manwich. I clearly wanted the world to bear witness to this fine meal.
Even though nearly every component of this meal was store-bought, I was still proud enough to sneak in snapshots. Those Trader Joe’s garlic and cheese breadsticks were my lifeblood in college. How I miss the days I could guiltlessly eat them…
On occasion, I also tried my hand at cooking meat. I’m not sure what possessed me to take at least a dozen photos of this pasty, utterly unappetizing-looking herb chicken…
I did not fare much better at baking. Though this pie may look somewhat edible, I had actually accidentally used salt instead of sugar when macerating the peaches. I realized my mistake before it was too late, but the peaches, once rinsed, didn’t taste quite as I’d hoped.
If you can believe it, these are supposed to be Lottie + Doof’s blood orange bars. Not enough blood orange juice and an overly compacted crust made this… what’s the word?… inedible.
Not all my meals were complete mediocre messes, however! As time passed, I began to get better in the kitchen. These chorizo-stuffed potato skins and chicken stew were a true labor of love, but, for once, the taste was worth the time.
Yes, my friends, it’s been a long, slow journey to cooking and eating right. It amuses me to think that I really did subsist on crackers, non-perishable goods, and take-out for such a substantial portion of my life. Truly collegiate, and not in the good way. On the bright side, however, I’m truly showing signs of progress! (It would have been pretty difficult to regress, you know?)