What Happens When You Don’t Know Anyone And Decide To Go Abroad, Part VII (Rome)

What Happens When You Don’t Know Anyone And Decide To Go Abroad, Part VII (Rome)

Read on if you want to see some funny college food fails.

Wandy Ortiz

While reading this week's installment, let's all keep this quote in mind:

“Each mistake teaches you something new about yourself. There is no failure, remember, except in no longer trying. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

So, now for the good stuff. As I'm sure many of you either know or have heard, Italy is culinarily world-renowned for everything from aperitivo to gelato, from wine to pasta. While I've been here, I can honestly say I've had some of the best pasta of my whole life. Aside from adventuring into the cultural food world of Roma, I've also ventured into a much more dangerous world of food: that of my own cooking.

Okay, so my cooking isn't that bad, but it ain't the best either. Let me be the first to say (and God mom I hope you're reading this) that as a child I could be considered "spoiled." Grateful, gracious about it, but sure I was spoiled. My mom or grandmother made all the meals in the house, and although I was around to help cut this or season that, most of my kitchen action was that of onlooking or minimal contact. Just recently (like, maybe three months ago recently), I tried to make steak with corn oil instead of olive oil. Like, I'm that unfamiliar with cooking. If we weren't eating at home, we were ordering in or eating out.

But, now that I'm in Rome, my food situation is at times a far cry from the over romanticized pasta carbonara of my dreams. Restaurant food is E X PE N S I V E, and my university campus has kitchens. So, as you could imagine, I've been trying my hand at cooking to save money on the weekdays and splurge on that lasagna on the weekends. Do I know anything other than what I've seen my mom do? Not really...

Am I making this s**t up as I go? Oh, hell yeah.

Unfortunately, I can't always buy all the "good" stuff that comes in large packages, bottles, or boxes, considering that I'll only be here for five weeks. I also may be able to weasel my way around Italian with my Spanish and French, but sometimes I just do not know what those labels read. I'm pretty resigned to the basics: milk, eggs, boxed pasta, vegetables, salt, pepper. Anything that I can think I know what it is, I can make taste decent, and can finish off in five weeks, I buy. This has lead to some pretty cheap and sad attempts at food. Luckily, you can all see since I've been taking meal pics to show my mom I'm at least mildly competent in the kitchen. I'm too mortified of how much these meals scream

"I'm not POOR poor, but I'm college poor"

to post to my Instagram feed. So please, enjoy these photos at your amusement and my expense. If there's anything I'm good for, it's definitely a laugh or two!

Attempt #1: Pasta with what I think is pork sausage?? And also some type of grated cheese blend that I added milk to in order to make some type of fake mac-n-cheese. The cheese was okay, but had a weird aftertaste...and green beans because I can't disappoint my mom like that.

Attempt #2: Some indeterminable cut of steak which I seasoned oh-so briefly with some salt and pepper five minutes before I cooked it. It was bland. I got a lot of green beans that week.

(*Bonus Pic: my mom says I screwed up and could have used way less olive oil. I had never cooked a steak before in my life. Dually noted. Looks f*ckin gross.)

Attempt #3: Same cut of steak, but new and improved because I did some cheap college student improvising and marinated it overnight with some pepper and balsamic vinaigrette I literally found in a kitchen cupboard. It was alright. Still tried to kill off those green beans. That avocado was hard as a football a week earlier so I put it in a paper bag, zipped it up in my suitcase, put the suitcase in my closet, and let it ripen over the week in the dark. It came out beautifully if I do say so myself. Threw some lime and salt on it, because that's what any self-respecting Puerto Rican would do. Look mom, I'm eating vegetables.

Not Pictured: Eggs, frozen fries, some "cold cuts," frozen waffles, clementines, bananas, apples.

As you can see I do not really know what I am doing, but I'll keep working at it for the sake of my wallet and my more adultier adult self. Apologies in advance to my future children, mommy is good for ordering you a pizza.

Will I figure it out? Will my steak ever taste decent? Will I ever stop being college broke?

If there are any updates worth mentioning that aren't culinarily mortifying, you'll be the first to know...

Remember: "It is the courage to continue that counts.”


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