Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and point of views of current arts students around campus. Get to know our creative and passionate students through their “voices” and get a snapshot of life as an arts undergrad. The views and opinions expressed within these student voices posts are solely those of the author.
I may be nearing the end of my degree, but I still can’t quite shake my addiction to articles offering alleged “essential advice” to incoming university students (hey, I need all the help I can get). Most of the advice offered typically ranges from the mind-numbingly obvious (“you’ll get better grades if you actually go to class”) to the vaguely dubious (“you’re only young once — party hard!”). There is one piece of oft-repeated advice, however, that seems worthwhile to me: learn to cook.
The reasons that helpful beacons of university wisdom usually give for learning to cook tend to be the dull, practical ones: it’s healthier, it’ll save you money. And both these things are true. But I think cooking has value beyond transforming you into a saintly, nutritionally-balanced and budget-savvy “adult.” Once you know how to cook, spending time in the kitchen is satisfying, it’s soothing and it’s fun! Assembling various raw ingredients on your counter and cutting and frying your way to a finished meal can give you a real sense of accomplishment even on days when nothing else seems to have gone right. Sure, there’s the occasional kitchen incident (only last week I had a Great Muffin Meltdown) but most of the time, there’s nothing to bring down your blood pressure like chopping carrots into tiny cubes.
So, if you didn’t grow up with a spatula in your hand, how do you get in on this cooking thing? I would suggest enlisting the help of your friends. Know someone who makes a mean red pepper lasagne? Ask them to teach you how. Maybe have a get-together with your pals where you each make a favourite dish, a kind of put-it-together-on-the-spot potluck. Food and friendship are a match made in heaven.
Buy a recipe book or, even better, check out some free online tutorials and recipes. It’s not hard, I promise; read the whole recipe before you start, follow the instructions carefully, and google any technical terms that you don’t understand. And the magic is that, just like anything else, it only gets easier with practice.
Food and friendship are a match made in heaven.
Of course, for some people in our campus community, buying nutritious ingredients that can be transformed into tasty home-cooked meals is a financial challenge. Luckily, U of A’s Campus Food Bank has been providing assistance since 1991 to anyone on campus. Located on the first floor of SUB, Campus Food Bank provides food hampers to members of the campus community in financial distress. For those of us in more comfortable financial situations, the food bank accepts donations of money or non-perishable food items year-round and also offers volunteer opportunities each semester.
If cooking really sparks your interest in social issues related to food, Sustain SU also has a number of programs aimed at promoting sustainable food on campus, including a Farmers’ Market held in SUB every second Thursday. The market sells local, organic, sustainable foods, whether that be fruit or fudge.
Cooking can be a road to mental calm in the midst of a hectic school week, to conviviality among friends or even to engagement with larger social issues such as sustainability and hunger. So what are you waiting for? Tie on that apron!