Every fresher house has its awkward first cuppa. We’ve all been there: the silence as the chink of teaspoon on china hangs in the air; the void stretching out between desperate stabs at small talk; the fidgeting, the broken eye contact.
A week later and tea breaks are like something out of a different world. You pop the kettle on, kick back, catch up. Before you knew it, you’ve slipstreamed into the new normal of university. You hero.
Unless, that is, you’re the one housemate with a strange second use for the kettle. Then all hell breaks loose. It’s 6pm, week 2. You flick the switch and embrace the rumble. Then you fetch that magical ingredient that none of your housemates – sometimes, it feels, nobody at all – associates with a kettle: a bag of frozen Aldi peas. Ears pricked up by the rumbling, two of your housemates appear – the hot-drink-loving fiends – in the doorway.
“Tea!” Their wide eyes fix on the kettle, which continues to shake uneasily. Slowly, reality dawns on them. A frown presses across both sets of eyebrows. The silence of that first fresher’s tea break returns. Caught in the act, I pour the frozen peas into a bowl and fill it boiled water. I expect a gasp, but nothing comes. Only stunned silence. I make my apologies and go about repeating the process. My words go in, eventually, and the pair venture back upstairs like sleepwalkers.
Five minutes of boiling later and the peas are ready. I’ve banked one (and potentially the only one) of my five a day, using minimal time and effort. I may have lost the confidence of half my house, but I’ve stuck to my guns: quick-fire veg cooking. Here lies my claim for why peas are the most time-efficient, easy and utterly devastating vegetable to cook.