So, the time has come; I feel I must address college food. Honestly, I could not be more grateful to live in a catered college. My own cooking skills vary from boring to atrocious depending on my mood and energy levels; so the prospect of three hot meals a day with no effort expended on my part really is fantastic, even more so now that I spend 90 per cent of my time trudging around freezing laboratories.
The general college dining experience is a pleasant one; the dinner ladies are lovely, sitting and talking with my friends is great, and I have genuinely never had better doughnuts.
Right, now that’s out of the way, I’m going to complain about it for a bit. Something strange happened as I was standing in the queue for lunch one day; it being 1pm, I was practically passing out from hunger, and after a while of not moving, I suddenly realised what was happening. There were huge groups of people jumping the queue! This is simply not on. It is not British. I got into the queue because I am hungry, and want to eat food as soon as possible.
Despite this, I don’t barge in front of people, because it is extremely rude. If someone barges in front of me when I have just had four hours of lectures in the morning and haven’t eaten since 8am, I am likely to actually try to eat them. So freshers, a PSA: queue-jump at your peril.
So after I’ve finally got my food (hooray!), I go to sit down with my friends; except there is only one space, on the far end of the table where I won’t be able to hear anyone and will likely get repeatedly elbowed in the face by some flailing randomer. This is strange because I remember seeing my friends sit down at a large, empty table (one of many large, empty tables in the room, in fact). But for some reason, this has made everyone else in the room think that this table is special, magical even, and they all must sit at it.
It’s like sitting in an empty train carriage and finding that the one other person there wants the seat right next to you. I collapse into my seat in despair and resign myself to dodging elbows and low-flying curly fries for half an hour.
Now I’m a vegetarian, so I admit that I have a limited perspective on college food, having not tried absolutely everything, but my careful survey of friends has proven one thing about college food: when it’s bad, it’s really bad, and when it’s good, you probably panicked, chose the wrong option and got something bad anyway.
The fundamental problem is that on one day there will be several delicious options to choose from, and I will dither for nine hours deciding what I want. The next day, every option looks more disgusting than the last and I have to desperately pick the one that looks the least grim. Sometimes, if you’re really unlucky, the meal hovers on the borderline of “I don’t actually feel physically sick when I put this food in my mouth, but it’s a close thing”. At least then you can fill your plate with potatoes and eat them instead of the main course. Mmm, potatoes…
Protips for livers in and out this week:
- Read the menu while you’re queuing and save time choosing what you want when you get to the front (this will also speed up the queue and stop starving second years such as myself from diving headfirst into the soup)
- Remember which options you like, because they repeat them weekly and you’ll be able to pick something nice every time (would recommend a baked potato if all else fails at lunchtime)
- Livers out: Please help us. We don’t care if you just make us pasta. I haven’t seen pasta all week, just endless potatoes… save me!
Photograph: Bryony Hockin