Food&Drink Writers Sarah Cayless and Izzy Frost dip into the different ways food can play an enriching role in our lives

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Sarah Cayless – Food&Drink Writer

Food, glorious food. Glorious in its ability to enrich any situation or occasion, and arguably one of the easiest ways to express your love. Even simple gestures such as taking some chocolate round to a friend if you know they are feeling a bit down can mean a lot, as it proves you bothered to take the time to go to the shops and remember what their favourite type was. And to top it all off, there is legitimate scientific evidence which claims that eating a bit of chocolate can improve your mood.

You could say that the joy of a family get-together comes from the success of gathering everyone physically in one place…but you can’t deny that the food remains crucial

For a show of love on a bigger scale, take a look at family gatherings. Yes, you could say that the joy of a family get-together comes from the success of gathering everyone physically in one place, and the hilarity produced by the mayhem your family’s idiosyncratic games, but you can’t deny that the food remains crucial. The party would be wonderful either way, but it’s the food that makes it.

Besides the fact that it will hopefully be delicious, it symbolises a great deal. The way in which different family members will provide different components, be it a salad, a pudding, a few beers, or the world’s lushest Victoria Sponge (if I’m contributing), food beautifully epitomizes filial love. Whilst the host will always shoulder the main bulk of responsibility and stress, having your family rally around, and overcome logistical hurdles such as how to transport a trifle from Surrey to Bath, will always enhance the gathering.

Food can also be a very handy way of communicating feelings of not-quite-love-yet. It’s hard to go wrong with agreeing to cook for someone as date, because if you can actually handle yourself in a kitchen then that’s a sexy skill to flaunt, and if you can’t, then you have a ready-made situation to laugh about, thus easing any initial awkwardness. It’s also a cheaper alternative to asking someone to go for a meal out.

One of the biggest indicators that my now-girlfriend was pretty keen was when, after we’d been seeing each other for a couple of weeks, she offered to cook for me. At that stage, I had yet to convert her to the pescatarian lifestyle, so the knowledge that she had bought meatless meat (and a basil pot, for goodness’ sake) in a bid to impress me, made me think I must have been doing something right. Though having been promised meatballs all day, I arrived to be greeted by her, very flustered, and frantically blaming the unusual properties of the meatless meat for the ensuing lack of meatballs – ‘It just wouldn’t stick together!’ However, I’m convinced that this brief chaos only added to the charm of the makeshift Bolognese she eventually cobbled together.

Being cooked for is always a nice treat, and something a lot of us appreciate all the more since coming to university. It can be increasingly tricky arranging time to meet up with your friends in the evenings, especially if they are the sporty type, so consumed by training and sports’ nights. Therefore, offering to cook for them can be the ideal solution. It magically frees up a lot of time as you can chat whilst chopping and stirring, instead of having to wait for that elusive ‘sometime after dinner-timeish’. And unless your friend’s exceptionally lazy, it should halve your washing-up time. If you are cooking for someone else, you’re also more likely to cook something palatable, featuring at least some nutritional component. This will therefore hopefully leave you both feeling better, as nothing will ever beat a good, home-cooked meal, especially if it’s their turn and you can just sit back and enjoy. 

Izzy Frost – Food&Drink Writer

Food is something that tastes good in the moment, but also allows us the opportunity to spend time with friends and family

Food is, of course, at a most basic level, simply one of those things we need in order to stay alive – and yet we all know that in reality it ends up encompassing so much more than that. For me, food is an excuse for designated no-phones-at-the-table time to spend with loved ones and to try new things.  

I’m sure I can speak for most people when I say that I hate waiting for food, but there is something so much more satisfying about a meal when it is truly worth the wait. The longest I’ve ever waited for a meal was in Queenstown, New Zealand, for a world-renowned ‘Fergburger;’ it was worth the wait ten times over. Laid out like a fast food restaurant, with minimal seating space, but a queue that runs around the block almost 24/7, this is the slowest fast food out there. Even the high quality of the burgers hardly makes you think of fast food.

Apart from the fact that the ‘Ferg-lafel’ was the best burger I’ve ever eaten (vegetarian or otherwise), my favourite part about my Fergburger experience was the outing that went with it. From queuing with three of my best friends for an hour and a half and watching other people go by smugly with their bags of burger-shaped bliss, to excitedly discussing what we would all order and worrying about the food envy we knew we would get from each other, the anticipation is the part I remember most.

After the sprint back to our hostel with our spoils, and the revelling in the incredible taste of it all, I remember the laughing at everyone around us with their tinned soup and toast next to our colossal burgers. While I wish it were possible to remember exact tastes, the part I remember about the Fergburger was our excitement and chatter throughout it all – and it’s amazing how wonderful a memory of a falafel burger can be without even remembering what it tasted like. 

The meal we spend so long intricately planning… is really just an excuse for everyone to be in one place

If food is something that tastes good in the moment, but also allows us the opportunity to spend time with friends and family, then the best example of this for me must be Christmas dinner. Coming from a family that lives far and wide across England, living vastly different lives for much of the year, the meal we spend so long intricately planning, exhaustively discussing, and rigorously executing is really just an excuse for everyone to be in one place.

There are two teams when it comes to Christmas dinner – the eating in versus the eating out. Just as my family are pro a real Christmas tree and all the strenuous upkeep that comes with it, my family eats in, alongside all the chaotic frenzy that inevitably ensues. Becoming a vegetarian aged 14 certainly threw a spanner in the works of the festive atmosphere between my grandparents and myself back in 2013 – the ‘but you can still eat turkey, right?’ comments have continued without fail, ironically or otherwise.

Ultimately, however, whether I’m eating a nut roast or a turkey, a Christmas roast is about all the other stuff that comes with it. Under the excuse of a roast dinner also come the shoddy jokes and off-kilter paper hats from crackers, the watching with baited breath (or falling asleep in front of) the Doctor Who Christmas special, and the going to bed hopefully having avoided any of those petty family arguments that seem to come with holidays.

So, in all future food-related endeavours, remember that it’s not really about the food, but about all the people and everything else that comes with it – although I’m sure this will be of no comfort if you’re ever caught ravenously waiting in a Fergburger queue.