At the age of 21 do you find yourself buying organic chutneys to match the rather expensive Serrano ham you have just bought, rather than purchasing the rudimentary bottle of Sainsbury Vodka? Or becoming overwhelmed with the desire to venture down to Didsbury to visit ‘Cheese Hamlet’ to get your dairy fix? Is your ideal night out (or rather, night in) flexing your culinary muscles cooking a dinner party for your friends? Or have you ever YouTubed knife skills and found yourself lost in a mountain of celebrity chef recipes because you didn’t know what to do with that belly pork you bought? If you’re nodding your head, you are part of the new and increasing ‘student foodie generation.’
The dramatic increase of cooking programmes over the last few years has sparked a new interest in food across the nation. Students have not been exempt from the trend. Simply look at Facebook for proof to see countless pictures of people’s dinner with smug captions that go along it: “just whipped up a little something” otherwise meaning “behold the mastery of my superior culinary skills.”
For those infected by the ‘foodie bug,’ long gone are the stereotypes of student eating. Baked beans and Smash have been replaced with the likes of risotto and garlic-infused mash. The tin openers have been put away and out have come the mortar and pestle. Many a potted herb plant has lived and died on the halls windowsill.
It doesn’t just stay in the kitchen. Open your ears around university and you will hear many a gastronomic discussion between two enthusiasts usually boasting about what they ate or a new amazing little restaurant they’ve found. This is because a great majority of foodie fever involves showing off. “I’ve mastered the soufflé.” “Well I can confit a duck leg.” It is a competition to out-cook your mates and great pride is found in your knowledge of what “quenelle” means or in the admiration of your well stocked cupboard.
So when you are reading this and thinking things sound very familiar, fear not! You aren’t alone. Be unashamed of your Nigella Lawson cookbook or your ability to recall the last three years’ MasterChef winners. Go forth and drink your Rioja, bake your Camembert and spend your loan on lunch deals and cake tins. Do it because, as Virgina Woolf said, “one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” This speaks all too true when you are at university.
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