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London flat feasts

Stephanie DePrez | Monday, September 14, 2009

Sometimes I miss Notre Dame. A lot. So much my heart wants to break into little bits and crawl across the ocean and into McGlinn hall so it can huddle in the corner of the quad that I will live in come January. But these moments pass, and I am once again sitting on the steps of Trafalgar Square, eating lunch with any number of the multitude of ND kids studying abroad in London this semester.

Spurred by these bouts of homesickness, my flatmates and I have devised a way of channeling our comfort-yearnings into a fool-proof plan of daily satisfaction. We have Flat Dinners.

Now, this is not simply meeting up at the end of the night to eat. Instead of a rushed dinner at the dining hall between meetings and rehearsals, ours are a full food production.

Each day one of the five of us is in charge of the evening meal. This means she must choose a recipe, shop for ingredients, arrive at the flat in late afternoon and cook a meal in its entirety. We are all eventually drawn into the kitchen by the smell of pasta/chili/beer brats/BBQ chicken and bacon wraps. Eagerly we hang around, awaiting the meal, and preparation usually ends up being divvied up among the group. Someone grates cheese, stirs the rice, or sets the table. When the food is ready, we all clamor to sit down at the table (“Someone put on music!”) and devour whatever waits.

We pass around dishes and clink glasses. We compliment the cooks (ourselves) and muse at how wonderfully we are managing our international eats. Someone mentions eating the left over’s for lunch tomorrow and someone else says, with a full mouth of food, “Good one.” Soon the food is gone, but the meal is far from over.

“Who wants tea?” This English staple has become our evening delight, and everyone pitches in to clear the table and ready the cups or get out the sugar. The next hour will be spent making fun of London, ourselves, and anyone who happens to have joined us (for there are always dinner guests).

Eventually the evening winds down. Homework must be done, weekend flights must be booked, and my blog must be updated. Someone offers to do the dishes, and we each slip away into our own worlds. Until, of course, the next morning, when we wake up and ask, “Who’s cooking tonight?”

So even though I may be surrounded by fashion, frantic walking and impeccable accents, I find a way to get “home” every night. The dishes are impressive, and I’m pretty sure it’s because the main ingredient really is love. Some people think the National Gallery is art. Well, they’ve clearly never eaten with us.