The Irish race has a strange fascination with the art of the great, epic, heroic failure. We’ll give it a bloody good go, but some strange circumstance beyond our control will invariably ruin it for everyone. See Thierry Henry’s handball denying us a place in the World Cup in 2009, see the Celtic Tiger blowing up in our faces, see the lads of 1916 for example.
It was with an air of foreboding that I approached my first attempt at making an actual meal for myself. 20 years of age, I have been living away for home for the past 50 weeks, and I still hadn’t quite climbed this mountain. Thankfully nobody got shot while tied to a chair this time.
In fairness, I lived in Catered Halls at Vine Court during term time for First Year, and I had been staying with my aunt in London for the past two months, but it’s still fairly poor. The closest I had got to cooking was my famed “…and toast” diet. Beans on toast, Super-Noodles on toast, spaghetti hoops on toast. You get the picture. The past few weeks I have been staying in my mates flat however, he’s been very good and cooked dinner a few times. But I’ve been living off takeaways all weekend. Chinese, Nandos and a McDonalds that I got delivered on UberEats that I was far too lazy/hungover to walk and collect myself. Something had to change, I had to become the change I wanted to see in the world.
I psyched myself up all day, the options were spinning and twirling around my head. No work was getting done, far too much pressure. By the time I hopped off the tube, climbed the stairs and went through the barriers facing the Tesco, my mind was made up. The choice was clear. Tonight for my tea, I would be having chicken and pasta. Wow-wow-wow Billy Big Bollocks, baby steps. Isn’t this a step too far? Nonsense, to paraphrase one of the aforementioned lads of 1916, Patrick Pearse “There are many things more horrible than bloodshed, and slavery to microwave meals and takeaway food is one of them.”
This was something I just had to do, I had to set an example and possibly make a martyr of myself to inspire those who were to come behind me. However, I wasn’t jumping fully in at the deep end. I purchased Dolmio sauce that already contained mushrooms and onions, along with pre-cooked chicken. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
The first challenge was how to turn on the Hob to boil water for my pasta, I had turned the knob but nothing was happening. A panic came over me, you idiot Eoin. You arrogant fool, I hadn’t prepared for this, I’d not asked my flatmate the requisite questions and now there I was looking a fool to all the world. I had already sent giddy snapchats proclaiming my newfound bravery, this was terrible news. Literally the worst thing to ever happen to anyone ever. Why has God cursed me in such a way as to strike me down anytime I dare to raise my head above the parapet. But when all was lost, I found it, there was a button right infront of me, I pressed it and a light came on. Hurrah! Now we were cooking with gas (slight artistic license here, it’s an electric cooker).
But then, another problem, how many bubbles constitute boiling? This was another quandary, but as is life. If we knew all the answers then what fun would it be? I decided that I would play the long game, I stared out the bubbling water. Finally I snapped, I judged the bubbles to be sufficient and set about entering my pasta. The online step-by-step guide instructed me to toss aside the cover for the pot, this wasn’t what true Italians do apparently. They know best eh?
10 mins later, it was time to drain the water and add the sauce. But did I need to cook the sauce before adding it? I sent out a tweet and from the barage of people calling me a dickhead, I gathered that I didn’t actually need to do this and it would cook with the pasta along with the chicken and in no time at all, I was enjoying a delicious and nutritious meal. I was incredibly proud of myself, I had taken a chance and it had paid off. Use my struggle as a metaphor for your own uni life.If it hadn’t of worked out what’s the worst that could’ve happened? I’d just go to Nando’s again. Just try things, try out societies, try out new clubs and take yourself out of your comfort zone. If it feels good, do it.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky – Michael J. Scott – Eoin McCall