A Word on ‘Potatoes’: Chapter 3 — Cooking With What You Have

As a struggling freshman, I often found my stomach growling in anger as the night approached. Once the sun had set far past the horizon, my feet carried me to the kitchen cupboards in my dorm, searching for old cookie crumbs. But, past the half-empty cookie boxes and stale pieces of bread remained one dorm staple: potatoes. 

My dorm in London, where all the cooking would take place after long hours in school. 

No good meal is complete without potatoes. Whether mashed with butter, roasted with garlic, pan-fried, or made into thin chips, potatoes are one of the most versatile foods and they are cheap. 

In my freshman year of college, my roommates and I often pooled money at the beginning of the week to finance shared grocery trips. Using the few bills we could scrounge up after busy weekends partying around London, we would head to the grocery store. This was the time to buy the essentials: toilet paper, bread, butter, various kinds of milk, and of course, potatoes. By purchasing these items altogether, not only did we show care by proving we would provide for one another, but we also created an unspoken rule: “I won’t let you go hungry.” These were the items we shared the things we used together as a small community. It put trust in each of us that if anyone ever needed something but didn’t have the means to get it, we would step in and help. This is one of the many ways we created a family within the dorm and built a solid foundation for a community. 

The cooking was often left to me. Having held a knife in my hand for the first time at the age of eight, one could say I know my way around a kitchen. After hours of studying, working in the university’s Student office, and speaking to my family from across the ocean, I often started my cooking process well into the evening. In a dorm with seven other girls, food goes as fast as it comes. One minute you would have seven pieces of chicken fresh off the stove, simmered in onions and tomato sauce with a hint of oregano and garlic, and the next minute you would have only the bones. The groceries did not last us long especially for me. I was known for sharing my meals, occasionally charging students from other dorm rooms for a plate of rice, guacamole, tacos, and salsa. At the end of the week, all I had left to eat were the neglected potatoes sitting in the corner of the kitchen, begging to live a little longer. Wrinkled and slightly soft, the sad spuds were eventually used to satisfy the growing growls of our stomachs. Despite them looking questionable before cooking, I never failed to create a tasty meal for my roommates, and I always knew they would walk away from a potato dinner with a smile on their face and a satisfied stomach. 

A favorite “potato meal” of mine: butter chicken and potatoes simmered together on top of white rice.

Potatoes are great because they’re versatile. They go with anything and everything. Although we originally ate them out of pure hunger and necessity, they have become a staple item in my apartment. When my roommates see me bring home a small bag of potatoes, it only takes them a few minutes to softly ask “So….potatoes for dinner?”

A recent meal I made for my roommates of roasted potatoes, breaded chicken cutlets, and an arugula salad.

If you ever find yourself in need of a quick and cost-effective recipe for potatoes, feel free to use mine! 

Roasted Potatoes


– Small potatoes (as many as you would like)

– 4 cloves of garlic 

– 2 teaspoons of oregano

– 2 teaspoons of chili flakes

– 2 teaspoons of onion powder

– 2 tablespoons of olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Cut potatoes into halves and place into a bowl
  3. Mince garlic
  4. Coat potatoes with olive oil, spices, and garlic
  5. Once well coated, place the potatoes onto a baking tray
  6. Place into the preheated oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Enjoy!

If you’re out of potatoes or don’t feel like turning on the oven in this heat, use the coupon below for sushi at Okinii!

By: Allegra Ruiz

Allegra Ruiz is a junior at New York University and she is from Chicago. She studies English and is minoring in Creative Writing. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, reading books and essay collections, and cooking for her roommates. Currently, she lives quietly in New York. 

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