Kitchen diplomacy: how do students really share kitchens?
By A.R. Cabral
November 5, 2020
Image Credit: Charissa Zhu (@foodbycharissa)
College is a time when students begin to either love or loathe the kitchen. When roommates move in together, each bring with them their family's kitchen traditions. Practices include how food is stored, what food is served and who does the dishes.
For some roommates, these adjustments are easy and the kitchen becomes a reminder of home. For other roommates, dealing with kitchen logistics can feel like a mess waiting to happen.
With COVID-19 forcing many UMD students to remain in their homes more than ever before, the kitchen has become a place of community or a place of dystopia, depending on which household you visit.
Scott Simpson, a junior mechanical engineering major from Mt. Airy said, “the pandemic has caused us to see each other a lot more… Kitchen overlap would be much less frequent if classes were in person as usual.”
With many courses online this semester, it is no surprise that traffic in the kitchen has increased. Simpson and his three roommates live at the Varsity Apartments.
“Kitchen operation is absolutely fair, I have zero problems with it,” Simpson explained, “We aren't aspiring chefs, so cooking isn't something that we get excited about.”
“The most unfair part, in my opinion, is dishwashing duty,” explains Simpson’s roommate Steven Ioannidis, a junior supply chain management and philosophy major. Ioannidis explains that it isn’t much of a problem since he finds the process of dishwashing therapeutic.
With limited space and many moving parts to a functioning kitchen, tensions can sometimes boil over. However, some apartments are more tense than others.
“We've had some points of conflict in the kitchen about where things should go and organization,” said Aliya Rahman, a junior from North Potomac who is double majoring in english and psychology. Rahman lives with two other students at the Varsity.
There are some commonalities between Rahman’s and Simpson’s respective kitchens. Roommates in both households are responsible for purchasing their own food, with some exceptions for kitchen staples like milk, eggs, spices and oils.
“If someone runs out of eggs or milk, we’ll share with each other,” says Ioannidis, “But it’s assumed that the person that runs out will buy more soon, and this has been a good arrangement so far.”
The households differ in their approaches to food storage. Rahman explained that everyone shares a refrigerator and is responsible for their own food. Whereas the other apartment includes two additional mini-fridges to keep everyone’s food separate, according to Ioannidis.
The kitchen has increasingly become a place where roommates break bread and talk between classes. A good shared kitchen in college is like the meals prepared in it: with a variety of flavors and a little bit of heat, great things can happen… or turn into a sloppy mess.