How My Study Abroad House Stayed on Speaking Terms

My study abroad in college wasn’t especially conventional. Instead of attending a university in England, I participated in a private program, which owned several houses and flats throughout Bath where we were put up, instead of in dorms.

By the end of the semester, my house was the only one in the entire program still on speaking terms. How did we do it? Cooking and eating dinner together.

We quickly realized that eight women sharing one kitchen was a recipe for disaster (no pun intended). If we all shared the responsibility of cooking for one another, we’d save time, money, and traffic in the kitchen, while also eating healthier. One girl refused to participate, but the rest of us easily worked out a schedule. On the weekend, we’d all fend for ourselves, but on school nights, we’d rotate cooks.

For some of my flatmates, this was how they learned to cook, period. My friend Hayley went from boiling gnocchi out of a bag to creating her own eggplant bruschetta recipe.

Since I already cooked regularly, I was tasked with Sunday dinner each week. I’d make things like rosemary crusted lamb chops, vegetable pot pie, meatball subs, or oven fried chicken with sweet corn spoonbread (which I somehow managed to whip with only a fork). When my parents came to visit during my spring break, they were able to save by having dinner at home with me.

We were right about saving money, time, and traffic in the kitchen. But we also discovered that added benefit: bonding. Around that dinner table was where we really became friends – family even – and it made the hard parts of sharing a house so much easier.

Clarendon Dining Room

I can’t count how many nights I spent at this table.

Those warm memories will make cooking during my RTW trip less of a sacrifice to save money and more of a pleasure.

I highly doubt I’ll undertake such laborious recipes as I did for our English Sunday dinners. Instead I’ll aim for simpler fare that uses few ingredients, no special equipment, and under an hour to prepare.

Omelets, hashes, and stir fries are all quick, versatile, and easy to scale down for solo meals. But I think a particular favorite for high-energy meals will be the meze bowl, a type of Mediterranean salad.

Meze Bowl
Layer 1: shredded lettuce
Layer 2: grain base, e.g. brown rice, barley, or quinoa
Layer 3: fresh veggie salad, e.g. diced cucumber, red bell pepper, and red onion dressed with chopped parsley, lemon juice, and salt
Layer 4: crumbled feta
Layer 5: hummus
Layer 6: half an avocado
Garnish with lime juice

Veggies and grains can easily be swapped out for whatever is readily available, and if I feel like I need more protein, I can add thinly sliced chicken, flank steak, or other meats, or even hard boiled eggs or black beans.

I typically rely really heavily on recipes, too heavily. My cookbook collection takes up an entire windowsill. I obviously can’t take those with me, so things like stir fries and meze bowls, which rely more on technique than on an exact recipe, will be critical to cooking on the road.

 

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