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The perils of cooking off campus

Chris McGrady | Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Off-campus cooking is truly the survival of the fittest. While some of my roommates resort to peanut butter sandwiches or canned meat of various kinds, my culinary tastes are down in the dumps.

One of the eateries that can provide satisfaction no matter what is Chipotle. This enviro-friendly, Colorado-based restaurant serves up a piping-hot burrito in a matter of minutes. Add God-like guac, beautiful braised beef, tasty tortillas, all washed down with an ice cold bee… um, soda. It can’t be beat. But on this past Sunday, I set out to try something different – the home-cooked meal.

There is a certain satisfaction to a home-cooked meal. But this is trickier than one might imagine. I fancy myself a pretty good cook, but I realized I can really only cook a few things well. Just the other day I tried to grill out some bratwurst. Easy, right? Not so fast, hombre. The charcoal wouldn’t light (no lighter fluid). Forty-five minutes and 12 newspapers later, I had erected a pyre worthy of any Greek god and I finally got the coals lit. Just when the brats were nearing their greasy perfection, I was trying to move them when the grate flipped, dumping the scrumptious sausages into the ashes. Sigh. Another meal bites the dust.

Fortunately, there is a benevolent retired boxer who wanted to enter the grilling world, and I set out for my apartment’s George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine. Surely I can’t mess this up. Dice up a chicken breast, season, and throw it on there. Voila! 10 minutes later, a strangely chemical smell is coming from the grill. WTF, mate? Lo and behold, a plastic fork was somehow resting against the top of the cooking service, melting and dripping down onto the chicken before hardening into some kind of charred Darth Vader-esque shell. Strike numero dos.

So now it is going on 10 o’clock, I’m hungry as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore. Grilled cheese it is. Butter the bread, turn on the stovetop, add a little bit of cheese. Oh, this is looking good and golden. Out of nowhere, a fly enters the picture. I will not have this disgusting creature ruining my meal, not now. I begin to swing violently as the fly goes all kamikaze on my sandwich. In an unfortunate series of events, I miss the fly, hit the handle of the pan, and send my tasty-toastie across the room like a rock out of a trebuchet. With a resounding splat, the sandwich embeds itself on my wall. Strike three – I’m out.

There are certain times when a man must admit defeat, and this is one of them. Go ahead, roomie, pass the canned meat.

The views expressed in Scene and Heard are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.Contact Chris McGrady atcmcgrad1@nd.edu