Kitchen love and wars

Crazy Cambridge kitchen stories


At home my kitchen is the heart of the house. It is where my family comes together at the end of the day to prepare food, eat and chat about our days. The kitchen is normally warm, tidy, clean and a relatively sanitary space and, while I will not deny that it is not always free from the odd familial argument or debate, it is mostly a happy place which I enjoy spending time in.

So it’s safe to say that coming to Cambridge and being shown the relatively small ‘kitchen’ (if you can even call a microwave, hob and fridge a kitchen) was a little bit of a shock. When my aunt visited her first reaction was “but where do you eat?”. I think that many university students will just about be able to picture what I’m talking about.

The freezing cold gyp with broken heating, sensitive fire alarms and lack of table can really be a struggle sometimes. And, despite our wonderful cleaners, there just always seems to be one too many pans stacked up in the ‘washing up box’ (aka a breeding ground for disease) and food in the sink to encourage the vicious cycle of not washing up. Not to mention the precarious drying rack where countless plates and precious wine glasses have been accidentally smashed.

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Don’t get me wrong, living with your friends and sharing a kitchen together is fun (if only you could all fit in it). We see each other most mornings and evenings which always makes cooking fun and entertaining. But when one of your much loved neighbours makes a beef stew and leaves it to rot on top of your cupboard for a week, or leaves uncooked meat open in the fridge, or steals your home-cooked bolognese sauce, you start to wonder, is this really the dream?

My friends and I always used to talk about how amazing it would be if we could all live together and share a kitchen. But now that it’s happened, I’ve started to see some of the flaws in the idea. It’s safe to say that the kitchen group chat causes a fair bit of tension with people demanding to know who left their mouldy mushrooms in the fridge or who (once again) did not clean up after themselves.

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While we are very fortunate to have our dinners cooked for us from Monday to Friday, the weekends we are left to fend for ourselves and they really do present a world of opportunity for tasty delights. Pasta, pasta and more pasta is cooked time and time again, each week trying to make it more exciting by adding something ‘exotic’ such as tabasco or even, dare I say it, Bovril (why not hey?). And only in Cambridge would you open your fridge to find a fish head or some caviar (some of us are quite the chefs apparently).

But while the kitchen may be small, cold and a little unhygienic at times, I can safely say that some of my best memories have taken place in our little nine person gyp. From 1am fire alarms waking up the entire building because of a burnt sausage, 2am fire alarms because of some post-clubbing late night toast cravings, to just simple Saturday night dinners sat on the floor chatting and laughing, the kitchens really have been a hub for some good times after long, hard days.