I've been living in an apartment in Rome for almost a month now, and living in an apartment means cooking your own meals. I had never even made toast before getting here, so stepping into the kitchen was basically like stepping into a different world. In these couple of weeks, I've found that these seven moments are inevitable in the life of a new chef.
If you weren't a multi-tasker before, you are now.
Being in the kitchen means being 100 percent aware of everything around you, from the pans on the stove to the hands on the clock to the knife blade by your fingers. Letting yourself space out (even for a moment) can -- at worst -- lead to a burnt meal, and -- at best -- to a sudden wave of anxiety when you realize you haven't been paying attention. Timing is also a huge part of cooking. If each piece of a sauce needs to be put in at a certain part of the process, and you're trying to make pasta at the same time so that both will be hot and ready together, your mind needs to be in three or four places at once.
Your parents become the best source for easy recipes.
They probably know how competent you are when it comes to cooking and know exactly what you'll be able to make. Any questions you have about the recipe can go directly to them, too. Plus, they've been making your favorite meals since you were little. They can tell you better than the internet how to make whatever you're craving, and, if you're living away from them, how to make it taste like home.
Leftovers become your next four meals after you cook something you actually liked.
Partially, because it tasted good. Partially because it's guaranteed you made too much food, because you can never figure out exactly how much you'll need. Partially because you're lazy. Mostly, because you're lazy.
It may be essential, but cooking anywhere near a sink can become a real problem.
The sink fills in the 20 minutes you've been cooking -- not because you're doing anything that requires a lot of pots or pans, but because you keep putting your spoons and knives in the sink without thinking after using them only once. The quick and simple meals are the worst. Once you've thrown everything in the sink and finished your food, you realize how easy it would be to make yourself some more, if you had only left the kitchen a mess.
You get very good at making very creative mistakes.
When you've been in the kitchen for a while, it's easy to space out and slip up. And not just with the food. You've hurt yourself in imaginative, new ways, too. Cutting your finger while slicing tomatoes isn't unexpected. Burning your finger on the side of a hot pan happens often enough. You're beyond that. I guess cooking would be boring without a little extra danger.
Pasta becomes a staple in your kitchen.
This may just be the status quo in my kitchen, because my kitchen happens to be in Italy, but pasta is so simple, I'd be surprised not to find it on the week's menu in any other lazy college student's apartment. (Hint: being a lazy college student also means eating pasta with a jar of boring, watery sauce. At least add some onions and garlic. Please.)
You realize cooking with friends is far more fun than cooking on your own.
Cooking for one can be fun if you're watching something on TV or have a good playlist to listen to, but having other people cook with you makes spending an hour in the hot kitchen a lot more bearable. You don't really have to worry anymore about making too much food, and you can take the multitasking out of the equation, because there are more hands to help out. It can be a struggle, though, especially in a big group. Trying to appease the ones who don't like their food spicy while catering to the picky eaters (me) and the dieters and vegetarians means getting creative.