Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ben's Cookies and Other Munchies

To show that not all British food is awful, I give you Ben's Cookies! These legendary Oxford staples can be found in the Covered Market on the High Street, where (believe me) their sweet smell wafts out to tempt all passersby. They're especially amazing when they're warm and gooey out of the oven - yum!

Really, British food isn't terrible - just bland. And overly dependent on certain food staples. Like "chips" (french fries), which I swear the Brits are even more obsessed with than American fast-food chains. And strange pies and so-called puddings (not all of which resemble desserts). And things made out of potatoes. And gravy. It's all a bit too heavy and unvarying for me at this point, which is why I've branched out into cooking for myself most of the time - when I'm not out grabbing cheap paninis and different ethnic foods, that is. Cooking, I find, is a good way for me to unwind, forget my schoolwork, and bond with other Stanford house residents. It's true that the fastest way to the heart is through the stomach, especially where baking is concerned... I do like British sweets, though, for the most part. As well as the tea! Afternoon tea every day at my affiliated college is simply lovely (or splendid? or scrumptious? or what British-sounding word should I use?).

As another aside on the topic of food, I went to my first Oxford formal hall this past Sunday night - partially out of curiosity about the tradition, partially out of hopes that the food would be better. It was, but only slightly. (Lamb? Ehhhh, come on.) By far the most interesting part was the ambiance. I shuffled in with three fellow American students, all of us acutely aware that next to the Oxonians in their formal school robes we were painfully underdressed. Fine dinnerware had been laid out across the tables, and the lamps had been replaced by candles - both of which made the hall even more Harry Potter-esque than usual. As per tradition, we all stood before our seats, glancing awkwardly around until silence fell and the college president and the professors, also decked out in fine robes, filed in to sit at the high table at the head of the hall. Then the college choir sang and we sat down to enjoy our three-course meal. At the end, sudden silence again - conversation fell short as all the students stood and the occupants of the high table got up and filed out of the hall. It all felt so timeless, so... Oxford.

And in honor of Halloween, this Friday's formal hall at Corpus is set to be Harry Potter-themed! So expect a nerdy post on that in a few days' time...

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