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The Flatting Series - Part Three

More Meals Of The Flatting Era
Jon Rivers - 24/3/00

Reading the first two articles in this series ( see Part One, Part Two) reminded me of some of the crazy things that happened when I first went flatting. It seems that cooking for yourself is the most challenging new step to take, and in my first flat cooking at all was the first hurdle.

I first went flatting with three other guys. We were a pretty varied bunch, brought together by the desire for freedom. This basically meant getting drunk every night for the first 6 months. We didn't really worry about nutrition. I'd read somewhere that your health today is determined by what you ate ten years ago. I figured I'd been eating pretty well for the previous eighteen years so I could afford to rely on that for the next ten. I doubt very much if that would be held to be true by any nutritionists today but the other guys were happy to believe me, so when we got hungry we usually went to the local hamburger bar.

We eventually got sick of that and decided we needed to have rostered cooking nights. One of my flatmates came to me on his first cooking night to ask how you boil an egg. I kid you not! So we had boiled eggs that night but every week after that he went and brought fish and chips for everyone on his night as that was a lot less work. We were happier with that than the prospect of having boiled eggs every week.

I thought I was a pretty good cook back then. I haven't improved much since, but at least I know my limitations now. Between us we basically had three different meals - what I'll call bean stew, vegetable stew and spaghetti. At the time we called them bean #@$% and vegetable #@*% because they consisted of finding anything edible and putting them into one pot, and cooking the lot together. The variation came when we had beans or not, or vegetables or not. We loved it.

Our spaghetti was a masterpiece though. It was almost wholesome. The problem was that to introduce variety we started adding hot stuff to it like chillies, chilli sauce, paprika, anything hot we could lay our hands on. It started off fairly mild and each time someone else cooked it, it would get a bit hotter. The inevitable conclusion to this was when it was sooo hot one night that we all took one bite, screamed in pain and ran out of the flat, down the road to the hamburger shop and each bought a cream freeze which we stuffed into our mouths as fast as possible. I can still remember the agonising relief. Once our swollen lips allowed conversation again we agreed that the hot spaghetti had gone far enough.

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