I love to cook. I’m typically quite handy when it comes to baking, cooking and most anything in between. However, most chefs would be horrified at what I have been working with as far as kitchen facilities for the past 4 months. This post will shine light on a previously unexposed area of life at the Université de Caen Basse-Normandie and the source of very minor cultural annoyance I’ve had to learn to work around.

When Molly and I first set foot in Bâtiment B (Building B), we were overwhelmed with joy because we had beds. If anything else was wrong with the building on that fateful, exhausting day of travel, jet lag and culture shock, we didn’t bother looking for it because we were so thrilled to have a bed. But as time wore on and we explored the building, our friends’ accommodations and houses, we found ours to be severely austere, especially with the lack of a cuisine (kitchen). Okay, okay, having no kitchen is a bit of a lie because we do have a room that’s officially labeled “cuisine,” but what’s inside is a double-burner induction stove and a sink. The end. There is no garbage can, no soap, no utensils and no towels.

Orange Shrimp, Rice and Garlic-y green beans for the 2-Burner Stove WIN!

Try to contain your excitement over my stove. It boils water in less than a minute.

Before I start to sound too whiny over my “kitchen”, let me tell you that there are a lot of things you can do with a two-burner induction stove and a sink, and the novelty of a stove that boils water in less than a minute is pretty awesome. After all, my mother has made incredible meals while camping with a kerosene stove. Surely, I thought, I can manage to make food for 4 months on an induction stove!

So Molly and I started in on the pasta saga. I have, since that first meal of pasta on January 30th, eaten enough pasta to make anyone hate Italy for the rest of their lives. If I ever have another noodle it will be too soon. Without a proper refrigerator for most of our time in France, we were limited not only in our culinary abilities but our sanitation regulations. If your Camembert cheese is green and fuzzy, it’s not OK to pair with wine. If your milk has an IQ of over 15, it’s NOT okay to drink. If your “refrigerator” is illuminated by sunlight and is over 65 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s not a fridge–it’s a balcony where you can grow flowers and get a tan.

The First Pasta Experience of very many pasta experiences we'd encounter in the next 4 months.

Nonetheless, over 4 months of experimentation and Carrefour shopping trips, we have become experts in how to cook with 1 very dull 3″ paring knife, 1 cutting board, 1 strainer, 1 whip, 1 rubber scraper, 1 spatula and 1 can opener. Among our repertoire of favored meals is cheap packaged soup with lots of chunky potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, tuna pasta, a squishy baguette and pate and egg sandwiches with chived-whipped cheese spread. We’ve found that it’s not the end of the world to use your dish towel more than thirty times in a row or dry your dishes on the same towel you’ve used all month.

What IS concerning is what will happen when I get my hands on a real kitchen again!

Are you ready for this, Chef Laura?!

What my desk looks like on any given night we have soup for supper.