As term draws to a close and those dreaming spires fade into the distance, most of us soon realise that throughout the term we’ve come to forget quite how beautiful they are; many also realise that they’ve forgotten quite how good, home-cooked food actually looks or, for that matter, tastes. Whether it’s questionable and repetitive meals in hall; post-revision takeaways or our own failed attempts at reproducing mum’s secret recipe, good food soon develops a habit of falling by the wayside.
Salvation comes, though, in that first dinner that magically appears in front of us on our return home. More likely than not it’s something that our pre-university selves would have rolled their eyes at, a casserole, cottage pie or roast with a mountain of much needed vegetables. A new-found comfort comes too from eating in a dining room less reminiscent of Hogwarts with people who won’t ask why they haven’t seen you in the library lately. We might mention how we’re “proper adults” now and will cook more over the vac and maybe we will. Once. In the whole five weeks. This token gesture might even be enough, just so long as we remember that parents may not be as tolerant of our abandonment of dirty dishes or occasional rejection of regular meal times as our scouts or housemates are.
Whilst eating at home once again becomes a highlight of any day, the same is rarely true of going out for dinner. Few other towns and cities have such a rich variety of restaurants, cafes and delis concentrated into such small areas as Oxford does. The Covered Market, George Street and Cowley Road are just a few examples of areas of the city where you are likely to go hungry, not from lack of places to eat but from not being able to decide where to eat. If, while home, you decide to go for a meal with old school friends you’ll soon discover that sconcing is strictly confined to Oxford and, much like a book in the Bod, you’ll pay dearly for trying to take it home when you’re met with blank and confused stares in the middle of a crowded restaurant.
Overall, eating outside of the Oxford bubble is a mixed bag. Meals with family and friends are a great opportunity to relax and catch up, but many of us will sorely miss the camaraderie of queuing for hall together or braving a crew-date in face of whatever culinary calamity may await. Next term will be different though. Of course it will be. We’ll learn to cook, make the effort to attend formals and have barbecues in the glorious sunshine that Trinity is sure to bring! Well, at least until revision takes over.