All things Food – Grad school style

20 Oct

My little sister is in grad school in Europe and she is fending for herself, just like all grad students away from home for the first time have to do . And though I was a new grad student in the US a good 9 years ago and have forgotten maybe the most turbulent times a few especially with regards to the food arrangements are crystal clear in my memory.

  • We were 4 girls living in a 2 bedroom house and got on each other’s nerves endlessly. There were petty fights, big fights, medium fights – we had them all. Fights about food was especially a commonplace occurrence.
  •  To start with labeling food in the fridge became a necessity to set the boundaries – we started this within 1 week of moving in as the situation demanded it.
  • Grocery shipping and settling the bill was by itself an arduous task. One room mate , almost anorexic, drank only milk and ate apples -or so she claimed. So she refused to pay for anything else. So the itemized bill was reviewed, re -reviewed and segmented out. When you have four “unfunded” , thrifty 21 year old girls looking at a bill – there are several things to account for . Which 2 or 3 people would partake of the bread, the cereal , the yogurt and so on? Which items were for one person’s sole consumption only?Did you account for tax of your solo item from the main bill- oh you thought we would pay the few extra cents for that! Fun stingy times!
  • And on top of this, the gallon of milk one hauled up the hill as we didn’t have a car, was often consumed way before one even got a sip. We finally started buying 2 gallons every shopping trip to counter this.
  • But above mentioned “anorexic” roommate did have tons of food from a well meaning relative sent home each month – cereal, cookies, granola bars to name a few.These she consumed in secret , until rats invaded the stock. And then for the first time we actually got a glimpse of the hidden treats , atleast the remains that the rats had left behind.
  • Indian store shopping was another huge deal altogether – no mean task. You had to firstly befriend someone with a  car, and this one girl excelled at . So yes, the only way we ever got a whiff of Indian groceries during grad school was was due to the fact that many a bespectacled Phd candidate well victim to our roommate’s charms.So I do thank her for that.
  • And after all that effort, consuming the last packet of Maggi by yourself would almost definitely result in a major fight – with some serious shouting.
  • Now when I think about it , our common shopping was one big  carb fest! Wish we had bought more vegetables – made more salads, eaten healthier as a whole.
  • Now regarding the actual cooking itself, All my subjis were ridiculously awful and simple – puree onions and tomatoes, throw in either a can of beans/ frozen veggies/cut potatoes, add in random masalas. Eat with tortilla. Pretty damn horrible. To this day, I hate the taste of raw onion in subjis and I take great pains to ensure the onions are well sauteed before pureeing.
  • Pasta dunked in pasta sauce by the bottle was also an evening meal we often indulged in. One particularly warm evening we all actually ate this meal of pasta, store bought sauce and garlic bread at our small little four seater table(second hand in a moving sale) and actually bonded to some extent. A very rare moment for us.
  • Canned mushroom soup was a favorite of mine with toast- I have not bought canned coup in ages now but I still remember the taste vividly . This was a treat I indulged in , on most Friday nights.
  • Peanut butter (PB)  was a source of many a fight. I made myself 2 PB sandwich on most days before leaving for my campus job and several hours of classes. As only one other room mate and I liked PB, we solely paid for the bottle on our grocery list. For a few days in between, I awoke too late to make my sandwiches and ran off to work. The other room mate read about a PB recall and also found our brand new jar (which was indeed part of the batch recalled) about 3/4th empty. I swore I had not opened it , she swore the same – all suspicions fell on anorexic girl who we all knew by now ate a good bit in secret,especially stuff she didn’t want to pay for. But she did not admit to it and so we gave up pursuing this mystery in a week.No one fell sick though.
  • We often attended career sessions with pizza sponsored by hiring companies on campus just for the free meal. I have sat for presentations by several companies who absolutely had nothing to do with my major.
  • My goal to cut personal living costs was to eat as many meals at home or  carry a sandwich or two with me everywhere (Carb fest as I said!). But many  a night was spent working on home work in the grad lab and the Doritos and Honey buns from the vending machine beckoned and I succumbed.  Yes, Honey buns are those ghastly oversweet, preservative filled, calorie laden pieces of crap you used to find in vending machine. I have had more than my fair share!

Fun memories!

4 Responses to “All things Food – Grad school style”

  1. princessbutter October 20, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

    OH MY GOD!! I swear I feel like you just described my grad school grocery shopping and food sharing. Except that eventually we all did separate groceries to avoid any sort of irritation. We too had a marker to write our names down. Sheesh. But that was only when I lived with girls in my first 2 years. When I and another girl moved in with the boys( SM, Abhi and Scube), it was such smooth sailing, you wouldn’t believe! Common groceries were all duly divided and if someone wanted something, they would just buy it separately.

    • popgoesthebiscuit October 20, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

      Had no idea you lived with scube. Need the deets on that, gal! Next time we meet

      • princessbutter October 20, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

        Lol! It’s not going to be as exciting as you are thinking! Haha

  2. Greenboochi October 27, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    It was super interesting to read this post 🙂 I do have similar stories from my paying guest days and could relate to you 🙂

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