Oxford, despite its fantasy and Harry Potter-ness, is in fact a real place, inhabited by real people who lead real (ish) lives and pursue real day to day activities. (At least, this is the mantra I try repeat to myself whenever I find myself in situations like matriculation last week, which seem like an obvious jest).
But when it comes to college dining halls, that sense of reality often begins to slip away. I mean seriously, whose university cafeteria looks like this??!
Apparently, mine does.
I find the halls to be one of the most fascinating features of the different Oxford colleges: obviously its a facility they all share (something that can't be said about some of the more outlandish holdings of some Oxford colleges, such as Magdalen's deer park or Christ Church's personal art museum), but in classic Oxford style that's about where the similarities end. Some halls are big and grand; others intimate and cozy. They range in age from 13/14th century (HOW IS THAT REAL?!) to 20th. And the food of course ranges as well, from tragic (*cough*Corpus Christi*cough*) to suspiciously delightful.
I got the pleasure of eating at two new halls yesterday: Trinity for lunch and Green Templeton for my first 'away' black tie dinner of the year (having already had one at Pembroke as part of freshers orientation week). At both, the food ranged onto the 'suspiciously delightful' end of the spectrum, and I'd love to come back to a formal hall at Trinity because if what they served me was their 'casual lunch' fare, I'd wager that their fancy food is off the charts.
(Green Templeton Hall, in the ground level of an eighteenth century observatory!)
(My food at Green Templeton: so tasty)
(Nom nom nom nom)
My friend Rachel has described the process of coming to Oxford as going 'down the rabbit-hole,' Alice in Wonderland-style, and on evenings like last night I tend to think that she's right on the money.
(And of course, there was tea, coffee, port, and chocolate to finish)