Long ago (last semester), I embarked on a culinary journey (spent two weeks searching for a pot to make chili in my dorm). After much anticipation, my dream came true on Oct. 17 in none other than the Carmichael Hall kitchen, and I don’t mean the one in the dining hall.
I was wary of cooking in the dorm kitchen, and I can say that my hesitance was confirmed by the experience. Surely there are better places on campus to whip up a meal than the mouse-infested, perpetually damp and dimly lit Carm kitchen.
It was on that very night I drew inspiration for this column: Would other first-year dorms offer similar circumstances as the Carm student kitchen? Thus, I present to you a new weekly publication: “Dishes, Delicacies and Dorms” (inspired by Guy Fieri’s hit TV show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”).
Each week, I will cook in a different first-year dorm and rate the kitchen on the following criteria: functionality, cleanliness, supplies and vibes. The winning kitchen will be awarded with a culinary surprise to conclude the semester. For our first week, I booked a trip to Flavortown in one of Tufts’ most iconic buildings: Carmichael Hall.
On Tuesday night, armed with my kitchen kit (an assortment of kitchen tools from Goodwill) and a grocery bag of ingredients, I entered the Carm kitchen ready to whip up a classic: vodka pasta with garlic bread.
First impressions were bleak. The little counter space that was available and not covered in dirty dishes was damp. The gray walls made the room’s dim lighting even more dull. The stovetop had seen better days. The sink was littered with chunks. I cannot provide specific details about said chunks; their makeup was unclear.
As the cooking process ensued, the kitchen did have some redeeming qualities, namely in the form of supplies. The previously mentioned pile of dirty dishes came to good use (after a thorough scrub) — specifically, a wooden cutting board and a large pot were helpful due to my lack of dishware.
Carm’s best trait, though, was its ability to foster good vibes. With an enclosed cooking space and dining table, the kitchen is prime for music, friends and dancing to flourish inside. Aside from a rowdy ping-pong match in the adjacent common room, the building was quiet, leaving me, the chef, able to lock in to my craft.
The resulting dinner did indeed transport every diner to Flavortown — potentially even Flavor City. A lack of chairs at the table led to a stand-up eating experience that resembled a well-deserved standing ovation for the meal.
Clean-up presented one final issue: The sink was too small for dishwashing. Thus, each and every pot and pan produced a tsunami of water on the pre-dampened floor and counter. If you think you saw onion scraps in the Carm sink, let’s say you didn’t.
Recommendations: Bring towels to compensate for the wetness, and potentially a headlamp if you’d like to be able to see what you’re doing. I’ll leave the solution to the sink chunks up to you.