Even if you can afford it, you don’t want to eat all your traveling meals in restaurants, inns, pubs, or coffee shops. This is not only for your health, but also to avoid the sameness of cooked meals. Our travel meals go far beyond bread and cheese, though that is a great beginning. What we really crave is unadorned fruits and vegetables, pure and raw.
At the Oxford Covered Market, we bought fennel, broccoli, tomatoes, and carrots still carrying their feathery tops. We also bought apples, apricots, dates, strawberries, raspberries, and red currants, that most European of berries.
Currants are tart, heavily seeded, and extremely delicate. Lay a sprig in your mouth and slowly pop each round berry off its stalk. Crush the berries with your tongue, chewing only slightly so as not to crush the seeds before you swallow them. Pull out the naked stalk of this fruit that Americans seem to eschew. It is the taste of England, of Germany, of Denmark, and the other far northern countries.
At other Covered Market shops we bought a sunflower-seeded rye and a very old cheddar that tasted more like reblochon. We stopped at a supermarket and added Greek yogurt, canned mackerel, iceberg lettuce, boiled beets, green peppers, and local blackberries. We were set. This might seem like an improbable amount of food, but we could easily eat it all in two or three days. We did not want to haul it from one college to another, but that is a different story.
We did not plan to avoid the restaurants, so we dined at the Anchor, a nice walk through the Jericho section of Oxford.
We split a duck, mushroom, and arugula salad, followed by simple Cumberland sausages on colcannan, with rather less cabbage to potatoes than I might choose. The sausage gravy was nicely mustardy. We had a lemon posset with shortbread on the side for dessert. The fresh raspberries embedded in the posset were a nice surprise. I wouldn’t have known of possets if it were not for Neil’s blog. The ales, or bitters from the casket, as they call beers on tap, were soft, softly alcoholic, 5% and under, softly fizzed, softly bitter, softly cold, like a flannel blanket. I hope you can find the raw and the cooked on your next trip.