What the contents of your fridge say about you as a Durham student

You’ll probably learn more than you expect

Being the only real self-catered undergrad college in Durham (John Snow and Stevo don’t really count), as someone who goes to Josephine Butler, I am all too aware of the peaks and troughs of cooking for yourself, seven days a week, three meals a day.

Although the idea of eating pesto and pasta seven nights a week doesn’t sound appealing at first, as all other colleges come to realise pretty shortly – we are in fact the real winners. Even though some of us do exist on a diet of pasta, Frosties and more pasta, not all of our cooking is all that limited – there are even some of us who dare to make meals which include real life vegetables, or use a pasta sauce not made from a jar with a little Italian man’s face on it (Mr Dolmio, I’m looking at you).

This article explores the many luxurious, and not so luxurious items in our cupboards and fridges, taking a deep dive into what we actually buy and asking whether we should be buying it in the first place.

The gym fanatic

This is the boy or girl obsessed with the gains, the bulk and “denchness”. For those spending hours and hours in the gym (half of which are spent scrolling through Instagram) the right quality and quantity food is of the utmost importance.

Firstly, every gym lads’ fridge must contain meat – and TONNES of it. Anything from chicken breasts to extra lean turkey mince to beef – as long as it comes from a dead animal and contains protein. Huel is also an obvious cupboard essential. Coming in a wide variety of tasty flavours, this gives the gym fanatic the chance to spot other fellow gym lads and converse in appropriate gym speak about which shake flavour tastes best. (The answer is none of them – they’re all rank). Also eggs. Dozens and dozens of them.

Of course peanut butter must also be included. Eaten straight from the jar in large scoops to maximise carb and protein intake, it may taste like thick claggy cardboard after a while, but nothing gets in the way of bulking season- which in fact turns out to be every season.

And finally, for those really dedicated to their gym pursuits- full fat dairy products. Milk, yoghurt, cream – anything to douse your food in to help achieve those extra calories and fully embrace the lifestyle of the professional weightlifter you think you could be. Hate to break it to you lads, it’s just your college gym, not the Olympics.

The conscious but not so conscious vegan

The majority of their fridge space is taken up by numerous pots of various houmous, making us worried our vegan pals could wake up one day and actually be a life sized chickpea themselves. As for the rest of shelf  – it’s just fruit and vegetables. Yep – nothing else.

Despite claiming to be vegan for environmental reasons, with avocados flown in from Australia and raspberries from Morocco, one has to wonder if this isn’t just a little bit hypocritical. Their cupboards also contain coconut oil, only purchasable in M&S which takes 50 minutes to get to, but the petrol fumes are worth it to cook with only the most sustainable oil.

And finally, tucked away, right at the back of the cupboard for not even the keenest eye to spot, is a big fat Double Decker: For those “just in case” moments when it’s been a difficult day and the idea of a grilled leaf just won’t cut the mustard.

The private school ‘Yah’

This is a frequently spotted species in Durham, most commonly found browsing the charity shops for edgy clothing to hide the fact that their Daddy is the Earl of Pembroke and that they holiday with Jacob Rees-Mogg.

No fridge would be complete without Waitrose finest smoked salmon – perhaps the most critical item for the yah, eaten with any and every meal. Most commonly paired with smashed avocado and poached eggs, the yahhh uses this dish to unsubtly remind everyone that “this is what I cooked on my ski season on my gap year, when I had just the BEST five months in Val d’Isère”.

Cupboard items will have been taken verbatim from Waitrose’s “essential items for student” checklist which includes extra extra-virgin olive oil, organic cider vinegar and clear spring organic tamari soy sauce – all essential of course.

Additionally, tucked away in the corner of the cupboard are some recherché Sri Lankan spices given to you by the local children you taught when you volunteered there on your gap year. The spices serve as a reminder of those lifelong bonds you made with them during this precious and lifechanging experience which lasted for the whole of two weeks. And finally to top it all off, Lurpak butter sits in the fridge in its own personalised Emma Bridgewater butter dish. Even the butter is posher than most of us ever will be.

The night owl

There are the ones who come out late at night and scavenge their cupboards for food to sustain their midnight gaming or intense programming activities – like foxes coming out to rummage through the bins in the early hours of the morning.

Their fridges border on empty with the occasional jar of mayonnaise or mouldy block of cheese. With no fruit or vegetables in sight, it’s a miracle they don’t yet have scurvy. Cupboards however are usually well stocked with Pot Noodles and Frosties – anything which can be prepared with minimal time and effort to maximise time in the nerd den.

Nevertheless, their freezer is a whole other story. Jam-packed with chicken nuggets, chips and fish fingers, the majority of this person’s diet consists of breaded meat and anything that has been deep fried and can be reheated. Cheap, quick and easy, it ticks all the right boxes for those who are antisocial and want to avoid polite kitchen chit-chat as much as possible . These freezer staples ensure a military operation-like efficiency where they can be in and out of the kitchen in the shortest time possible, disappear, and then not be seen for the next 24 hours until more chicken nuggets are required.

The domestic goddess

These include those girls (and boys) who delight in making everything and anything from scratch to prove their culinary skills as the perfect future yummy Mummy or Daddy.

Fridges contain lots and lots of vegetables to make anything from a puttanesca sauce to a béchamel or tzatziki by hand. Despite our protests that Tesco have a very good tomato sauce for 39p, the domestic goddess insists that homemade stuff is “soooooo easy to make” and only takes “like 10 minutes”. We all know it takes an hour minimum.

Cupboards will be full of elaborate pudding ingredients to be able to quickly whip up profiteroles or a Baked Alaska, massively showing up the rest of us when we bring a pack of Frubes to a house meal. There will also be the necessary pasta-making ingredients and equipment so that they can spend hours bent over like Rumpelstiltskin, cutting, shaping and filling individually flavoured ravioli for a typical Tuesday evening meal, reaching culinary standards none of us could even begin to dream of.

The final miracle of the domestic goddess is that there is somehow always enough food to feed an entire army if called upon for a post night-out snack. Cupboards are brimming with all types of bread and spreads, and she can produce homemade blueberry jam or gluten-free cinnamon bagels from nowhere,  almost as if her kitchen cupboard is a magical Mary Poppins’ bag.