I have to say, I was pretty nervous about food before I came here. I am an extremely picky eater (and yes, the italics was necessary for emphasis, that's how picky I am) and pretty much like normal, simple food. And I wasn't sure how readily available that would be here. I was also worried about buying said food. Because food is expensive.
But luckily, we've actually been doing a really good job keeping costs down. Because we don't have a meal plan here, High Point credited us back $2,800 for us to use on meals which comes out to about £1,700. And I think all of my flatmates are currently going well under budget. This is because we eat most of out meals in. We actually have a dinner schedule:
Sunday: CaitlinWednesday is an open day that is usually used as a make up day when we are travelling or unable to eat in on somebody's assigned day. For the most part, this means we only really go out once or twice a week, sometimes even less than that. It also means we are eating a good amount of familiar food. I have been trying some new things though, since the girls have a much more sophisticated palette than I do. I've made Macaroni Casserole, Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken, Cheesy Ritz Cracker Chicken, Chicken Nuggets and Rice and a few other things, and Caitin, Austin and Libby have made a variety of things as well: Enchiladas, Eggplant Parmesan, Burritos, Stir Fry. And we actually almost always have a vegetable with out meal as well. So we are definitely not the examples of starving college students. But that's because we cook for each other and any one given meal we make for all four could actually end up being less than one person at a pub or restaurant.
We do eat out sometimes, however. We've eaten at quite a few restaurants and pubs in Oxford and I could find something I would eat on pretty much any menu. I'm not about to try anything super adventurous but I've found I can eat successfully over here.
I have to say though, grocery shopping can be difficult. It seems as though nothing is where you expect it to be. For starters, the eggs aren't refrigerated and can usually be found near the flour. I mean, I guess it makes sense since they're both being used for making, but I'm just so used to them being in the cool section. At one Tesco we went to I think there were at least three different baking sections. I looked everywhere for brown sugar and had just about given up when I discovered a third area where baking supplies are kept. The set up just doesn't make sense. But I guess Brits probably come to America and are confused by our grocery stores, so there ya go.
There are a few British snacks and sweets I've fallen in love with. My first British food obsession was a snack food cracker called Cheese Savories that are a little bit like Goldfish but ten times better. Seriously, they're delicious. I can eat half a bag in one sitting, and the bags are pretty big. I've also become entranced with a number of British chocolates and sweets like Kinder Bueno Bars (a chocolate candy with hazelnut cream inside), Tangfastics (sour gummies) and Maoams (multi-flavored sweets like Starbursts). Speaking of Starbursts, the ones they sell here have Blackcurrant as a flavor. I never thought of them changing flavors based on where they are selling them. And I can tell you that I don't like Blackcurrant. At all. I've also been eating Meringues nonstop here. I know that they sell Meringues at home, but they are so readily available here and only a pound and they come in conveniently shaped nests and are just plain delicious and I love them. I think I might have a bit of a problem.
Caitlin and I have recently fallen in love with an milkshake place called Shakespeare's. Get it? SHAKESpeare's. Don't worry I didn't get it at first either. But now I think it's the best name ever. Anyway, their milkshakes are delicious--the first time I had a Skittles milkshakes and the second time I had one of their Christmas milkshakes--Candy Cane. And they also have specialty milkshakes for each of Shakespeare's plays such as Othello (Aero Mint, After 8 and Marshmallow topping) which Caitlin had, Comedy of Errors (Skittles and Bubblegum Millions with Popping Candy topping) which I had and some others that sound great like Merchant of Venice (Kinder Bueno, Ferrero Rocher and a Malteaser topping) and All's Well That Ends Well (Reese's Cup, Toffee Crisp and Minstrels topping). Caitlin and I have joked that if were were here for all three years of our degree we definitely would have tried to work our way through the menu.
I've also been training myself to say the proper words for food here. For example, cookies are called biscuits unless they are chocolate chip in that case they are called cookies. Wait, what? That doesn't make sense. Also, it seems like crackers are also called biscuits. It's just plain confusing. There's also the whole fries/chips/crisps thing. French fries are called chips here and our chips are called crisps. But every time I finally get the hang of it, I'll go to a restaurant where they call them fries and I have to start all over again. Seriously, it's exhausting.
Overall, I'm faring quite well across the pond in terms of food. Of course, I miss Captain Crunch and Sour Patch Kids and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups but I'm surviving and I'm able to find new and even better sweets over here (and let's be real, candy is the most important food group) so that has been awesome.
But now I'm going to miss Kinder Buenos and Maoams when I return to the States. It's a hard knock life.