Greetings from across the pond!
My first day in Oxford is drawing to a close and in the spirit of this incredibly long day, I thought I’d share some of my feelings on global travels from the perspective of the jet-lagged noms-enthusiast. One of my favorite things about the Atlanta airport is that you can get nearly every kind of food there. For my pre-flight departure meal, I got to chow down on a turkey bacon chipotle ranch crepe pictured below. The meat was shredded and mixed with the chipotle, almost to a chicken-salad like consistency, with chewy bacon bits the authenticity of which I did not see a real need to ponder. It was tasty, it was filling. It was conveniently provided by the same establishment serving as Terminal B’s primary frozen yogurt provider. Successful meal mission: accomplished.
The airport junkmeal is a necessity because of the energy it takes to get through pre-flight nervous jitters. I realize that the word “jitters” may imply some delicate, subtle fidgeting barely perceptible to others, but in the case of navigating a busy terminal, I want to assert that it’s more akin to intense cardio. In my experience, pre-flight jitters may lead to lengthy pacing or jogging between gates, checking your bag 25 times to make sure your passport is still there, bench-pressing your checked bag to make sure it doesn’t “seem” like it could be over the weight limit, and then eventually hoisting the compact but brick-like carry-on above your head to the compartment without crushing the charming tots below you in the aisle seats while they stare as though in wait for the heavy luggage to slip so they can yell for their mothers and have me kicked off the plane when I honestly would have caught the thing before it made impact…
I am a nervous traveler.
For the next leg of the journey, here is the array of delicacies I got to savor for my in-flight meal. Please allow me a moment to bombast about the highly questionable things that are happening on this tray.
This main dish is a chicken Marsala with wild mushrooms (I found one mushroom…apparently the rest were too wild to be tamed into the charming microwave tray with their comrade). Asiago crackers-pretty good though more ornate in packaging and promising of cheese flavor than the twin pita-sheets delivered. The roll- how to describe the roll? I will say that having an abundance of those things on the flight made me feel safe because had we-for whatever reason-wound up chilling in the ocean, I would have hurdled them at hungry sharks because my fists would not have been as resilient or forceful of a defence. The gourmet cheese wedge was delicious and made me think of cheese whiz without the alarming orange dye stuffed into a golden foil triangle. It did soften the texture of the roll…
Don’t mistake me for bashing in-flight meals, please! I’m complaining, certainly, but only with the plaintive whine of the overly-tired. The meal gets huge brownie points for the accompanying free glass of wine from a charming and colorful box- not to mention the actual brownie. The thing about these meals is that they double as fuel to keep you alert to take advantage of in-flight cinematic experiences, and a distraction to help you pretend you’re warding off the impending exhaustion. It’s part of a ritual you share with your traveling companions- marveling over what you think is sub-par, but is actually pretty tasty if you handle it creatively. You just don’t see it that way as terminals full of cafés, bars, and assorted aromatic pretzel kiosks disappear through the clouds.
This brings me to my first meal in Oxford and reported failure at my mission…
Beneath the Bridge of Sighs and through a narrow corridor, one of Oxford’s most popular little pubs teems with life and the smells of ale and tartar sauce. The Turf Tavern, with foundations dating back to the 13th century and famous patrons including Oscar Wilde and Stephen Hawking, inspired me to venture out of my comfort zone and sample….drumroll please…
Okay, here is my defence for this completely unoriginal choice:
- It was freezing cold and raining and-true to all popular British haunts, packed with people in the actual pub. I was eating for warmth
- British BBQ. That was the tag-line that grabbed my attention. Was I expecting hickory smoked fish and chips? Malt vinegar-pulled pork? I do not know.
- It was delicious, dag-nabbit! The bun was sweet and well toasted, the pork was thick but tender, and the side of sauce had a dark, smoky flavor that warmed my bones and helped me forget that my body has me trapped in a time zone where I’m eating heavy and rich sandwiches around 9am to stay awake.
The first day in a different time zone trying to set a pace is taxing, but it’s imperative to keep moving and taking in the culture. This is the whole point of the trip.
After lunch, we made it to the Pitt Rivers Museum of Natural History and Anthropology where there were famous debates on Darwin and natural selection.
And so I end today’s journey in my little single room at the top of the winding staircase in CSU’s Spencer House. Tomorrow we have big plans for touring the city and the rest of this evening is reserved for jet-lag management.
The acclimation process can be a little rough, but don’t let me fool you. This place is fantastic and I’m having a blast. Cheer’s to tomorrow’s winding ancient paths and mysterious menu. I look forward to sharing!
Thanks for reading!