LIFE WITH A NEW ROOMMATE (WITH SOME THOUGHTS ON PAPRIKA THROWN IN)
When Nick graduated from high school, he wanted to go to school in Manhattan. He also didn’t want to live at home; finding an apartment in Brooklyn was what he had in mind. He got himself a roommate and when he first started living there I would take him packages of chicken, steaks, hamburgers, cheese, pasta, cereal and some fruit and veggies. (This of course was before he became vegan, now he only wants me to bring him veggies and bags of pasta.) His living situation with his roommate however, proved to be less than ideal.
“Mom, he doesn’t know how to do anything,” Nick phoned to tell me one night.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“He lives on ramen noodles and boxes of macaroni and cheese.”
I couldn’t imagine any parent not giving a child basic life skills in cooking but Nick told me the parents didn’t cook either.
“They go out to eat every night,” he said.
“Wow, that must be really expensive,” I replied.
I thought what with paying for half of Nick’s rent, his tuition, his unlimited metro card, some food and clothes not to mention our teenage daughter’s need for clothes and shoes and make-up and spending money to go out with her friends, we had no extra income to eat out any night.
“But I don’t understand, he’s got to be able to make something,” I continued.
“No, even growing up he had a nanny who only fed him tuna fish sandwiches with lots of mayonnaise.”
I actually thought this was pretty funny and told Nick so but he was annoyed.
“He doesn’t even know how to cook a steak,” Nick was shrieking.
In fairness, Nick was also upset because the roommate while not knowing how to cook, didn’t “know” how to clean up either. Nick would often wake up in the morning to find half eaten bowls of ramen noodles in the kitchen sink or leftover macaroni and cheese still in a sauce pan on the stove.
Unlike Nick, our daughter Rachel had tried to encourage her girlfriends to try new foods. This week alone, one of her girlfriends was encouraged to put paprika on a bowl of macaroni and cheese I had made them one night. (And yes, I made the mac and cheese from scratch.)
“Try some paprika,” I heard Rachel say.
This may seem like a strange thing to sprinkle on mac and cheese but growing up with a Hungarian mother and grandmother, paprika was added to many a dish – particularly anything with noodles. You could always count on Mom to make shells with cheddar cheese and paprika; cottage cheese with dill and paprika tossed with ziti; and the ultimate heart attack on a plate – bacon, sour cream and butter with a sprinkling of chives and paprika coating some rotelle pasta. Consequently, when the kids were little and saw me sprinkling paprika on macaroni and cheese, they didn’t scream “uck,” they wanted some too!
The girlfriend shook her head furiously.
“It doesn’t taste like anything,” Rachel persisted. “It just adds color,”
I actually had to walk out of the kitchen and bite my lip to keep myself from bursting out laughing.
Unfortunately, for Nick, adding paprika to a box of macaroni and cheese made by an uncooperative roommate may add color but nothing else.