It Might Not be a Cooking Show, but Every Meal is a Production
Living on campus is often considered a typical part of going to university, but here at APU, I like to think that it’s actually a little more unique than the standard experience. New international students are required to live in AP House for their first year at APU, before moving out into downtown Beppu. For me, this means my time in AP House is coming to an end, and as excited as I am to find an apartment in the next year, there are many things I will miss about AP House—specifically, the cooking.
As a disclaimer, I actually experienced dorm life even before coming to APU as I am a DUDP student, and my first year at St. Edward’s University was spent in on-campus housing. Even so, it is way different cooking here at AP House. In the U.S., most universities have giant cafeterias and many students eat most, if not all, of their meals there. Here at APU though, many students don’t get their meals solely from the cafeteria (I do however recommend getting food from the cafeteria—it’s reasonably priced and there are a large variety of options…but that’s another story). Rather, they cook one or more of their meals in the AP House kitchen. And, if you haven’t figured out why that is so cool, don’t worry because I’m about to lay it all out.
Reason #1: It’s basically a mini “World’s Food Fair”, but every day.
One of the many reasons people come to APU is to experience the culturally-diverse environment, which is reflected not only on campus but also in the AP House kitchens. As a student who cooks every day, I often wander into the kitchen clutching my various pots and pans and am consistently greeted with what looks like a World’s Food Fair. To my left someone is making Sri Lankan curry (and has subsequently opened the window to let out the spicy air), to my right someone is making Korean fried chicken, in front of me another person is frying up some tempura, and I myself, am about to cook arroz con pollo, a dish unlike any of the others’.
Reason #2: You can learn new recipes and teach them (if you got them).
In my opinion, I am someone of reasonable, if not a little above average, cooking skills that I just picked up here and there. This tendency to pick up tidbits of knowledge and skills from various places has really been rewarding here at AP House. Since everyone comes from such different backgrounds, everyone has something different to share—be it their recipes or even cooking techniques. More importantly, many are just generally happy and excited to share their know-how with the curious bystander (like myself). Once while I was in the kitchen, I saw an Ecuadorian student teaching a Norwegian student how to properly fry up some meat ala Ecuadorian-style, and I can’t properly express how happy it made me to see students from completely different cultures bonding over something as simple as food.
Reason #3: People will sometimes feed you.
Maybe to some, this isn’t the most important reason, but to me, it’s pretty important. I can no longer count how many different types of food I have tried just by being near the kitchen. I myself have also followed suit and shared so many of the meals I’ve prepared with different people that it is almost second nature to offer food to someone within a 5-meter radius of me while cooking. In my case, I cook not only for myself but three other people every night. For example, in a week I may cook chicken noodle soup one night, flatbread and bruschetta the next, fried rice another night, tacos the following, and a big pot of stew that can be reheated over the weekend. At this point in the school year, my confidence in cooking has skyrocketed to the point that I basically feel like Gordon Ramsey (and who doesn’t want that kind of positivity in their life?).
Reason #4: The fruits and veggies lady gives me life.
Some students may know this, others may not, but throughout the week different local business owners traverse the mountain to set up shop right outside of AP House 1. This is extremely useful because not only is it convenient buy a kilogram of rice on your home on Wednesdays (for an insanely low price I might add), or get your favorite Korean goods on Thursdays, but it saves you time by not having to take a trip all the way down to Beppu. My personal favorite, and the most relevant to cooking at APU, is the little fruit and veggies lady that comes every Friday to grace us all with her big value produce. Every Friday, without fail, I can buy anything from garlic to onions, potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, and much more for almost a third of the price of what I would otherwise find in town and it is for this reason that she is integral to my cooking in AP House.
When the day comes that I move out of AP House, I know my dinners will never be the same. No longer will I be able to breathe in the scent of four countries at four different burners, I’ll have to find another produce lady, and I’ll no longer be cooking for my friends every day. Living on campus may have its challenges, but I have to say that cooking in the AP House is a rewarding, limited-time experience.
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