Food and Drink
Dining in Hall still carries a reputation for good food, though the menus are not as specialised as they used to be. Before the meal grace is recited by one of the scholars. This is usually in Latin. For those who are particularly interested in this custom there is a book of all the graces of the Oxford and Cambridge University Colleges, available from the Bodleian shop. It runs to 96 pages, so one hopes translations are also provided!
Oxfordshire has its fair share of specifically local recipes. Oxford sausages, Frank Cooper's Marmelade, and Oxford Sauce (a local version of brown sauce, made by Baron Pouget) all remain popular.
Oxford Bishop is a mulled drink, worth resurrecting. It is made with port, hence the purple colour which gives it its clerical name. Roast an orange (or lemon) stuck with cloves, and then add "small but equal quantities of cinnamon, cloves, mace, and allspice, with a race of ginger, into a saucepan with half a pint of water : let it boil until it is reduced one half. Boil one bottle of port wine, burn a portion of the spirit out of it". This recipe comes from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery, 1845.
Hollygog Pudding seems to combine the stodginess of historical puddings, but without the traditional measure of suet. It consists of an unsweetened shortcrust pastry spread with golden syrup and then rolled up like a swiss roll. It's baked sitting in a bath half-full of milk, and served with custard. It is sometimes rendered Ollygog, but no further information is forthcoming about where in Oxfordshire this recipe stems from or how it got its name.
Banbury Cakes seem to be one of the most well-known local foods. They're a sort of cross between mince pies and Eccles cakes, and their earliest documentation seems to be in Gervase Markham's The English Huswife (1604):
To make a very good Banbury Cake, take 4 pounds of Currants, and wash and picke them very cleane, and drie them in a cloth: then take three egges and put one yelke, and beate them, and straine them with good barme, putting thereto Cloues, Mace, Cinamon and Nutmegges; then take flower and put in good store of cold butter and suger, then put in your egges, barme and meale and worke them all together an houre or more, then saue a part of the Past, and the rest breake in peeces and worke in your Currants; which done, mould your Cake of what quantity you please; And then with that past which hath not any Currants couer it very thinne both vnderneath and a loft. And so bake it according to the bignesse.
These days, the county abounds with microbreweries, as well as the established Hook Norton Brewery, and The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD) even produces an Oxford Gin. Several cookbooks have been produced to try to bring the county's recipe collections up to date, including The Cowley Road Cookbook, celebrating the sheer diversity of local food culture, and The Oxfordshire Cookbook, a collection of recipes provided by good restaurants, pubs and food suppliers in the county.