An Ode to University Food

Anna Alden
November 29, 2015

As my days at Oxford dwindle, I get to spend some time reflecting on the last two months of my abroad experience. It's been a wild ride and I'm going to miss so many of the friends I've gotten so close with, but, most importantly, I am going to miss all of the places I can all-too-often be seen stuffing my face in. Of course, it really just wouldn't be fair if I didn't create some sort of comprehensive list for me to read and cry about later. So here is my "In Memoriam":

1. Turl Street Kitchen: Better known as TSK, Turl St, or Turly Turl, we discovered this place on our very first day, yet it took almost the entire term to truly understand its full potential. We hit the jackpot by ordering soup the first time (no coincidence that it's also the cheapest thing on the menu) and were served huge bowls of warm, mushroom-and-creamy goodness. We also got the opportunity to consume their freshly baked bread and locally cultured butter, which is a basically a gift we gave ourselves, because I don't think I've ever wanted to take just the butter home with me in its own take-away container before this moment. Still wondering if that's possible... BUT Turl Street Kitchen is not just a restaurant, nope, we soon found out it also has a front-room made completely for sitting and talking and doing work while drinking their AMAZING coffee and eating their AMAZING cakes (specifically the carrot and pumpkin, still trying to see how I would go about packing that.) Plus, as you may know, nothing in England is ever open late besides pubs, and even then they stop serving food quite early into the night. But Turl saves the day(night?) by staying open all the way to midnight. Amazing. 

2. The Alternative Tuck Shop: Famous for its obnoxiously long lines, this place is deceivingly fast. Whether you're in the library or heading to a tutorial, a warm panini, wrap, or plain old sandwich is always just one or two blocks and around three pounds (as in the British dollar!) away from you. On my busiest weeks I'll frequent the Alternative Tuck Shop at least three or four times, and order my usual Roasted Veggie and Chicken Panini... to the point where I'm pretty sure the guy has just started expecting me, and I probably don't even have to say my order out loud anymore. On that note, the same couple of workers are always there, and always so nice— how they can remember upwards of ten unique orders at once, I will never know. I can imagine myself looking for my usual panini and familiar faces on a busy day back at the U of R for sure. 

3. G&D's. Because of course I'm always looking for ice cream, on one particular night I found myself peering into the doorway of what would one day become a major source of joy and emotional security in my life. Of course, I started out slowly, taking the usual baby steps of a two-flavored cone (chocolate and coffee), then working up to a milkshake (Daim Bar crunch, chocolate, and fudge). Eventually, however, after flirting with the menu item for several weeks, I just had to do it— the Waffle Sundae. A glorious combination of warm waffle, ice cream, hot fudge, and sprinkled nuts, I waited for the perfect moment. So, after my third day of rowing in the Christ Church Regatta, my friend and I decided to reward ourselves for a great race with the ultimate prize. I can't even put into words the experience that we had at a little table only minutes away from the river we had just emerged from, cold and completely covered in water. I actually can't. I am so, so sorry.

4. St. Catz Hall: Like any Oxford student, I simply cannot deny the role that my college's hall plays in my life. With meals costing only three or four pounds, and conveniently placed approximately two minutes from my bed, I am a frequent flyer. I'd say that the meals are pretty good, sometimes extremely good— on one occasion we were served glazed duck I still can't get over, and the Thanksgiving dinner they put on for international students really put my usual meal to the test (but didn't win, it's okay). And while I could do without being served heaps of peas at every meal (though I've started to crave them as a result of some true-life classic conditioning), the desserts that have come out of our kitchen make up for all of it. With a chef who specializes in pastries, I'm not sure I could have asked for more. Every rendition of anything chocolate-related— we're talking chocolate mousse, mocha mousse, cake, and even homemade eclairs— has provided me a reason to keep going. All hail the St. Catz chef. 

In conclusion, I should be much more alarmed that the longest post I've written is about food. In other news, I'm now going to plan the entirety of my last three days around eating at all of these places one(five) more time(s). Oxford food, I'll never forget you. 

Anna Alden

<p>I am a Literature major at the University of Rochester and am attending Oxford through IES Direct Enrollment in the fall semester of 2015. As an aspiring academic, I am far too invested in the contents of my bookshelf and can often be caught printing an extra copy of completed papers for my own safekeeping. I am fully prepared to take on a completely new and exciting abroad experience both in and out of the classroom, and my love for writing makes each experience even more exciting to share.</p>

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