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Kitchen Nightmares

19th September 2006

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The student kitchen can be a distressing and unsettling place - a room capable of spawning great anguish in early encounters of communal living. We invited students and graduates to brave the horrific flashbacks and share their memories of that legendary first-year kitchen.

"The hot water urn hell in my halls of residence in Manchester… By the sink there was a unit that boiled water constantly for instant brews and for cooking use… This was used quite happily and merrily by all who had access to it, until we caught one of the lads spitting into it. Disgusted, we confronted him. He found it hilarious and reckoned he'd been doing it all term, and that someone had told him that all the hot water urns on campus had someone handily spitting into them on a regular basis."

"In my first flat we had a pet milk (or at least it had previously been milk at some point), and his name was Keith. But he got really fat and smelly and eventually exploded - poor Keith… I do miss him."

"Stuff was going missing from the fridge, and we weren't the only flat suffering from the presence of a phantom food burglar… Before long, plastic carrier bags were hanging from the handles on the windows of each room around halls. This worked particularly well in the colder months of the year - the bags being instant refrigerators for various goodies."

"One day, investigating a curious smell… I walked into the kitchen to discover one of my flatmate's standing at the cooker with a frying pan violently spitting and smoking (the frying pan - not him), he was trying to shallow fry oven chips."

"Me and my flatmates were good cooks, so no real disasters to report other than the fact that we had a slab of turkey stuck to the wall for several weeks."

"I had a rather frightening experience when upon entering my first year kitchen I found this chap microwaving a load of metal cutlery… when I quickly stopped him and (with a certain intensity in my voice) asked what on earth he thought he was doing… he answered that he couldn't be bothered to use a tea towel and so was drying the cutlery in the microwave."

"One problem often caused by communal living is the speed at which work surfaces disappear or cease to be useable… Our ironing board was regularly used as a spare kitchen surface, normally to store dirty dishes! Going into that kitchen regularly killed parts of my soul."

"A housemate of mine didn't know how long to boil an egg for, I scoffed at her stupidity but then realised that I didn't know either, so we consulted a book my Mum had aided me with, called 'How to Boil an Egg'."

"I once found someone microwaving a burger. A frozen burger. It came out grey, steaming and kind of like something that had come out of the wrong end of a cow. We tried to tell her it wasn't cooked properly, but did she listen?"

"A housemate of a mate once washed up using Mr Muscle and gave the whole house food-poisoning."

"When one girl had decided to take up the Atkins diet, I awoke after a fairly heavy night's drinking to find her plonked on the sofa at 8:30am, munching her breakfast. Due to the diet, her early, hangover breakfast consisted of a steaming, grey lump of lamb (what cut I couldn't even begin to guess, it may as well have just been a head) and an enormous blob of mayonnaise. I was nearly sick on my own feet."

"It's not exactly crazy but the hot tap in my first year accommodation was hot enough to make instant coffee… which happened on many occasions."

"The worst culinary concoction I ever witnessed was when one of my flatmates created the following spontaneous recipe
Open tin of beans - empty tin of tuna into cold tin of beans - empty packet of crisps into cold tuna/bean tin mix - mash up to make something approximately the texture and viscosity of slurry - eat in front of disgusted housemates."

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