Eating and the “Kitchen Trap”

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One very distinct part of my experience abroad is food, mostly because I eat a lot of it. Just kidding. But actually, food and eating are a huge part of social life here at my college. Because the kitchens are communal and it is just one massive area, any day between 5 and 9 pm you will see a large majority of the 500 or so residents at some point grabbing a bite to eat or cooking something up. This makes it the major social area of the college. Most people are free to socialize during this time anyways. So everyone congregates in the kitchen. Sometimes we cook in large groups, and every once in a while this includes some sort of new dish contributed by an exchange student. I have tried quite the platter of interesting foods, and at times I was unaware of it. Last week, one of my Chinese friends made a meal. Halfway through I asked him what the meat inside was and he told me it was pork. I responded that it tasted really interesting, at which point I was informed it was pig ear. Actually quite delicious. I have also tried things such as intestines and stomach as well. The intestines were better than stomach, and it was fairly difficult to get over the thought of my stomach digesting another animals’ stomach. It is great to try traditional dishes from other cultures, while also bonding over meals and cooking together.
Australians don’t really have very many distinct foods that they are known for. Their culture is similar enough to America that they eat pretty much the same except for more beef and lamb. There are two foods that I can think of that are different however. When an Australian talks about pie, it is not a pie in the way Americans think of it. I picture pie as a delicious sweet strawberry pie or apple pie. Here, it refers to a meat pie. I very much enjoy them, but I also miss fruit pies from back home which are probably my favourite thing to eat. Another distinct Australian food (although New Zealand claims they were the original inventers) is Pavlova. It’s a delicious dessert that is made with a meringue base and various kinds of fruit on top.
Cooking and eating in the kitchen can also be quite a distraction. A phenomenon that many residents label ‘the kitchen trap’. Because at some point, most people need to come get food to eat, this leads to a constant stream of friends coming and going from the kitchen throughout the night. At times, you talk to the same few people for several hours and completely lose track of time, and other nights you talk to heaps of different people for small amounts of time, but either way, before you know it, it has been four hours and you haven’t left the kitchen. That is the kitchen trap. It is so easy to get sucked in and socialize for a while instead of heading off to do the work that actually needs to be finished. For example, the four hours I spent in the kitchen ‘eating’ before writing this blog post. There is always someone you know in there, and it is quite simple to get caught up in chatting and small talk. This is a great way in which my college is different from the American ‘apartment’ style living and the catered colleges where everyone eats at once and then leaves. It creates a fantastic community area that most other communities tend to lack.

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