Roast dinners are the scrumptous peak of university life
Have a heart Vice. Uni roasts are the best.
The decision to have a roast sets your week up for success. Whatever disorganised frenzy the week has been, no matter how many deadlines you’ve missed, lectures abandoned for hungover mornings, or the week’s dissension over who’s doing the washing-up. Sunday is the day you all clean the flat and go to Lidl to get your shit together.
Whilst a roast with your family might bring you together, the one at uni creates unbreakable bonds between you and your kitchen companions, scrambling around the claustrophobic space. Gathering ingredients with no more than £3 to spend.
You and your housemates trudge through the luminescent aisles, praying nobody sees you like this whilst you search for that all important budget chicken. Icily adhered to the bottom of the freezer, there’s bets taken on who will reach in and grab it. Who pulls the short straw? The one who didn’t pay for the taxi the night before.
As the ovens heat up and sweat forms on the brow, as you clamber over someone searching for the last baking tray and fight for space to chop on the table, you know: these are people you can rely on.
Not all roasts are created equal. Christmas dinner trumps most other meals, let alone roasts. But now, with October rolling around, is the Uni Roast’s time. Everything we cherish about roasts –comfort, togetherness, pure British satisfaction – the Uni roast distils and enriches. And you don’t have to wear the stupid hats.
The Brexit kerfuffle left me scrambling around in the dark for some semblance of British identity. As everything I try to grasp crumbles in my hand like an over-dunked rich tea, seeing the one thing I was absolutely sure of, the one thing that unites a divided nation, under a vicious attack was a bridge too far. They can take our freedom of movement, but they’ll never take our roasts.
It’s a wonderful contradiction that you can be so hungover, so bereft of vigour on a Sunday, yet produce something so full of soul and life. Each dish has its maker’s trademark, evidence of all the life they could muster dedicated to its creation.
Fuck mash or new – roasting sits on the top potato tier with hash browns and chips. If you get it right, and aren’t squeamish about the salt and oil, you create a roast potato with a thick layer of crunch enveloping a lovely fluffy cloud. So perfect it leaves you cross eyed at the table. Just take a few seconds to look at this picture.
After months of roasts, each person on the production line will have mastered their dishes. Come mid-February you’re part of a slick operation that efficiently crafts perfectly crispy potatoes, creamy cauliflower cheese, and a gravy so rich it goes skiing every reading week.
Then, once everything is gobbled up, the cleaning is so beautifully delegated that it’s done before you blink. One person rinsing, one washing, one drying, one putting away, one or two pretending to do something -it’s a dream. The only other time cleaning like this happens is when somebody mentions getting your deposit back.
Finally, you can slump on to the sofa, put Gogglebox on catch-up, hope the licensing people don’t find out and fall into a blissful food coma.
So no, Vice, this isn’t an “enforced sense of togetherness”. If you manage a uni roast, against all the odds, it’s the damn best bit of the week.