I suppose you could say I got a nice Oxford student experience yesterday as Dani and I joined KK in the dining hall for both lunch and dinner. It is so completely different from strolling into Kosters and wandering about until finding something slightly appealing. We actually had to sign up for our meal the night before and specify what we wanted on the menu. (Smart, I suppose. It must cut down on wastes.)
Then, the hall is, of course, like every other room in this place: high ceilings, pretty lights, long tables, large portraits on the walls. We could not sit until the prayer had been said and then our meals was brought to us by course. We had fish and chips (oh so English) and lucky for me it was REAL fish and chips--KK says often times that is what the menus will read and then they totally jip the students and serve some other form of potatos.
As if this style of eating wasn't formal enough, that night we accompanied KK to Formal Hall, aka The Harry Potter Dinner. This is a regular Friday ritual. Everyone has to dress up and they where their "gowns." Now, these aren't actually what I would call a gown. Imagine it this way: Take a graduation robe, cut it off a the thigh and cut the sleeves off. Don't button it up. Put a collar on the back. Leave a long flap hanging from the shoulder on each side. What do you do with this flap? Um...let it just flap, I guess. It serves no purpose and just looks kind of ridiculous. Why do they wear these gowns? Because they are told to I suppose... I can't say I was jealous not to have one.
Again, we had to wait to sit at the table, but this time we had to wait for the President of the College along with these other important guys to file in. The president bangs the gavel, says a prayer, then we sit. The meal has courses again--which started out with this giant mushroom, ick! But it ended in a yummy caramel dessert. I've learned the food here is much more bland and plain. Like the whipped cream in the dessert was simply nothing more than whipped cream--no sweetness to it from added sugar or anything. I also took note that any time someone left the room before the meal officially ended, they had to bow to the head table.
The meal ends when the president again hits his gavel, everyone rises, and he says something--I didn't really catch it--and they exit. Dani and I decided it would be rather humorous to have tied everyone's gown flaps to the backs of their chairs so when they rise at the end of the meal their chairs come up with them. Yes, yes...sometimes our minds think like ten-year-old boys. (We've hung out with The Man Clan for too long.)
We thought the event was over, but then KK led us upstairs to the "JCR" (Junior Commons Room) where the students socialize over snacks. Last night's snacks included strawberries (some dipped in chocolate--mmmm!) and a drink called Pimm's. This alcoholic drink, let me tell you, did not look so appetizing. I could name several friends right off that wouldn't even give it a chance. Floating through the drink we spotted blueberries, orange slices, mint leaves, apples and--was that a pickle?! Yes, also cucumbers. All the floating chunks sort of gathered at the top of the pitcher forming a foaminess around it, making it that much more disgusting. But you know me, fearless with food, I tried it. It was actually very good. Somewhat of a ginerale flavor. Even Dani wanted a second glass--so that's gotta say something for Miss "I eat grilled cheese every day."
The food for the day may not have been my favorite in the book, but, for one, it was free, and two, it was definitely an experience!a