The Beauty of Being Young and Broke


When you are a poor, young college kid with a meal ticket, eating out is truly a luxury. Other than spending a little beer money on sustenance snacks like pizza slices and cheap burgers, dining out was not on the agenda. Then I got a girlfriend.

There is something lacking in romantic atmosphere in a dining hall. Could it be the lack of privacy with all of your idiot friends leering at you? Or could it be getting nailed in the head by the occasional dinner roll thrown from who knows where? Or possibly the lack of mood lighting in a room where you can be blinded by the glare off of the shimmering Jello squares? No, a trip to a restaurant was definitely in order.

We were off to Borelli’s for baked ziti with meatballs and Italian sausage. Not as good as my Mom’s, but delicious none the less. It gave me an idea. It was time to move off campus and fend for myself.

I was in a two-year restaurant management program. I had been helping my Mom out since I was a kid. My Dad opened a catering service when I was in high school and enslaved my brother Mike and I as his galley crew. I knew how to cook.

For what we spent to live in the dorms, we could pay rent. The same held true in the dining hall. For what we spent on  our meal tickets, we could buy our grains, fruits, and veggies. We could harvest game for our protein.

Four of us rented side-by-side trailers on a dairy farm a couple of miles east of town, so milk was cheap and fresh. The folks that owned the farm gave us a rent discount to shoot rabbits. We had a freezer full of them. My roommate and I each got a deer. We had the ultimate deal. I would cook and he would do dishes. It actually worked out pretty well as planned, except for one detail.

I used to have terrible dreams after eating rabbit. Not every time, but about half of the time. I mention this because I am curious if any of you, my faithful readers, have heard of this. A couple of years later, someone told me that it is because of a hormone discharge in some wild rabbits. I recently Googled it but have not found anything about it. I remain ever curious.

Needless to say we ate well. My Mom taught me well, especially in the home-cooked meal arena. It is an interesting side note to me how shared life experiences can affect different people based on age.

By the time I was in high school, my Mom was truly struggling with Multiple Sclerosis. My older brother John was in the Navy half a world away, my brother Nick was working after school at a grocery store and that left Mike and I to help out my Mom. Neither John nor Nick ever learned to cook. (Nick eventually learned to cook his two favorite dishes and, at some point, pizza.) Mike and I still enjoy cooking together whenever we get the chance.

The beauty of being young and broke is that we couldn’t afford to eat like hogs lined up at the trough, as we had the previous year. We were buying our own groceries on a pay-as-you-go basis and it helped us regain a prospective on how normal people eat without a meal ticket to Starch World.

Next up: Taking It On The Road

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Bio:  Bob Zimorino is a full-time real estate agent with Lambros/ERA Real Estate, a retired Certified Executive Chef, a Musician with the popular local band Hellgate Rodeo, a dad, and a grandpa. He shares the experiences from his life that helped shape his careers and hobbies. What better place to start his weekly “Taste It” blog than his take on the evolution of food in his lifetime?