Sharing the Table with Roommates
Apart from our undeniable love of laughing together, jamming out to music in our kitchen, watching movies, and using our orange teapot, my three roommates and I have been known for our unique personalities and interests. We have the agriculture and animal science majors and the business majors. We have the hockey player, the rock climber, the horseback rider, the baker, and the collective yogis. Our differences do not stop at our relationships with food. Dwelling in the apartment are (for the sake of food-choice clarity, not for labels) an all-accepting eater, a vegetarian, a vegan, and someone who can’t eat gluten or dairy.
Our first weekly trip to the grocery store of the semester resulted in an interesting hodgepodge of goodies in our fridge. Visitors might have been confused by the conflicting collection of items that seemed to signify a type of food schizophrenia. What were turkey burgers and gluten-free, meat-free burgers doing on the same shelf? In the beginning, each roommate stuck to eating only what she had picked and purchased in the market.
As our time together around our tiny kitchen table increased, so did taste-testings. We have sat around a bowl full of freshly made kale chips which began as a snack meant for one that soon turned into a favorite of all. This scenario happened countless times with homemade hummus, roasted sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts, and spoonfuls of peanut-butter. We started realizing that there were things we could all eat together, things we could try, things that could become our own choices too; that we weren’t eating or living alone.
There have been times, though, when real frustration is present due to the dichotomy between choosing one’s diet and being forced into it. Our gluten- and dairy-free roommate has enviously watched the vegetarian consuming yogurt, while the vegan might not give it a second thought. Similarly, the vegetarian has yet to desire the meat sausages eaten by those around her. Could it be for the simple sake of knowing that, if she wanted to, the vegan could indeed eat that yogurt, while the gluten- and dairy-free roommate does not have that option? Could it be that the preference eater more easily loses taste for excluded items, while the eater with food allergies retains nostalgia for those foods that used to be favorites? Whatever the case, we remain universally supportive of one another’s eating styles.
Our tiny kitchen table has become a safe space for discussion. Our lives as students have presented us with unique blessings and burdens in our quest of sticking to our dietary preferences or restrictions. The animal science and agriculture majors have excitedly given insight to the other roommates about something they have learned that might alter food-choice behavior. The business majors often share economic insight into the world of agriculture, of which the others were unaware. Despite the many benefits of living in academia, we have also had conversations in which roommates have become disillusioned with their majors. After learning of the seemingly ever-growing mountain of issues in our world, the stresses of pursuing the future have certainly showed in our kitchen. This transitory time in our lives has occasionally resulted in unhealthy behaviors, but we have been lucky enough to have each other as a source of comfort, insight and friendship to lead us back in the right direction.
Although our food preferences, much like our personalities, are asymmetrical, they have the capacity to be shaped or strengthened by supportive surroundings. Whether it is out of preference or health, choices can change from positive influences. Food, like laughter and music, has brought us together.
Have you ever had to share a kitchen? What impact did it have on your eating habits?
Photo Credit: Gabriella DiGiovanni
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