Most would agree that the best thing about Christmas is the food. But with those in London and the south-east now barred from visiting loved ones on the 25th of December, thousands will have to make do without their mum’s roast potatoes this year.
It’s no different for students, many of whom had already decided not to go home at all over the Christmas period. Some have been able to make the best of a bad situation though, and created outlandish Christmas meals with their housemates.
We spoke to a few of them, and discovered that their cooking is better than literally everything their unis gave them during quarantine.
THE TURKEY-HAD-SOLD-OUT CHICKEN BANQUET
“We had an absolute feast,” says 20-year-old Summer, who cooked for her four housemates. “We started with salmon blinis and cheese crackers, then had a big chicken (turkeys had sold out) marinated with garlic and rosemary, plus roasted parsnips, red cabbage and asparagus.”
Summer, who is studying at the University of Nottingham, adds that “the vibes were immaculate” during their dinner.
After Nottingham went into Tier 3, the group decided to “make an effort” with their festive meal to mark the end of a “really weird term”. They didn’t go completely OTT though, settling for a shop-bought apple crumble with cold (?) custard for pudding. Immaculate.
Upon sending me her pictures, 22-year-old Tatiana at Glasgow School of Art explains: “We decided to do a vegan roast this year, apart from a few pigs in blankets.”
The cooking went smoothly, she adds, because “we’re really lucky in Glasgow, as we get a lot of space for not too much money.”
On the other hand, studying sculpture during a pandemic has not been smooth: “It’s been really hard as we’ve had no access to any workshops and only eight studio days this term. Not having technical support or facilities has left us restricted. The student body feels abandoned and overlooked by the institution.”
THE THREE-COURSE FEAST
Rachael, aged 22 and studying for a primary PGCE, hasn’t seen her family since last Christmas, and can’t this year because they are abroad.
She told me she’s found getting into the Christmas spirit a little “forced”, but her house of three “decided to go all out” with the food. For starters, they had prawn cocktail with smoked salmon and baguette, then a leg of lamb with roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, sprouts, carrots and pigs in blankets (do they count when they’re that big?) for the main.
Topping it all off was a “chocolate mousse cake thing”.
THE CANAPÉS AND CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL STARTER
James, 20, studying in Bristol explains: “Everyone in the house made a really good effort and we evenly split up the workload, so everyone was involved in making it. It was a really fun thing to plan and work towards and having everyone stop working and just sit down was well deserved.”
He’s looking forward to being at home for Christmas, though, as he “can’t wait to see the family and a full fridge”.
THE ROAST CHICKEN WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS
Sasha, aged 20 and living in halls, says that it has been harder to meet new people during her first term, also at the University of Bristol.
She and her five housemates made Christmas dinner “as something to look forward to, especially as we all love food”. That’s handy, as there are nine varieties of food on this plate, plus three different something-on-toast starters, all topped off with a game of Jenga and meringue for dessert.
THE CLASSIC (PLUS YORKSHIRE PUDDING)
It’s the gravy that really does it for me here. Despite describing the past term as “bleak”, Emily, 19, at Norwich University of the Arts, rallied with her two housemates to create this beauty, accompanied by Christmas films, mince pies and a walk to see the Christmas lights.
She explained: “The biggest challenge [of the term] has been watching the updates and having to move with the constant change in restrictions. When lockdown was announced, knowing that we weren’t allowed to go home or see our families until it was over was a strain. Although it was for the best, it felt like we were effectively ‘stuck’ in the city where we go to uni.”