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By Raph Torrance
Bonjour, dear reader, and welcome to a new feature in which I, the Gourmand, guide you through the ins and outs of the beating heart of Oxford’s student body: that is, of course, the stomach.
Today’s topic: the art of pigging out at the pictures. Dying to see the latest film at one of our beloved local cinemas but put off by the prospect of paying £8 for a trough of insipid popcorn? Follow these simple tips to keep your stomach and bank account full through those nigh-on three-hour installments of the Dark Knight series.
The Magdalen Street Odeon is perfectly positioned for maximum face-stuffing potential, with Tesco and Sainsbury’s practically adjacent and the Cornmarket Street artery mile but a stone’s throw away. As such, your options on this front are plentiful: a dash around the supermarkets heralds such snacking opportunities as:
- Pastries and viennoiseries
These are easily concealed owing to their size and barely perceptible smell. Particularly recommended delicacies include the almond croissant from Sainsbury’s and the monstrously-sized bag of dirt-cheap doughnuts from Tesco.
For those of you without a sweet tooth or who are going protein-style, may I suggest Tesco’s selection of sliced meats; try the mortadella and the prosciutto to satisfy your inner pseudo-cultured ponce.
Individual cartons of juice are the way to go here, as they can be hidden most anywhere and allow you a variety of flavours for your viewing pleasure. The cheekier among you could even hazard smuggling in a small bottle of wine for a truly romantic date night, though be warned: this may be more illegal than just frowned upon…
- Crunchy snacks
As we’re on the subject of warnings, a word about crisps, popcorn and the like: the enemy here is volume (both kinds). These snacks tend to come in large, puffy bags which are not only difficult to conceal but also invariably noisy, which won’t do anything for your stealth both pre- and during-film. The most common culprit, these are liable to get you nabbed and taken to the brig (or The Attic…), so consider yourselves warned.
For those intrepid gluttons looking to satisfy greater pangs, may I suggest a trip to McDonald’s or Burger King, where the Saver Menu and King of the Day respectively are perfect for the burger or five which will last you throughout your cinematic experience.
An honourable mention goes to what this gourmand considers the perfect cinema nibble: the classic Percy Pig. If you dare to venture as far as Queen Street, I invite you to nip into M&S to procure this timeless suiline snack.
You’ve chosen your snacks? Perfect. Now for the hard part: getting your stash through security. Large items of clothing with many pockets are your friends here, as long as they don’t have suspicious bulges, so don’t get overambitious with your pocket-filling. The real star, however, is the bag: ladies have the advantage in that large handbags are rarely given a second look, so, gluttonettes, or those with a female companion, use as much of this space as possible. As for men, an oft-overlooked tool is the satchel or messenger bag, which is common enough amongst students for the staff to assume that you’re merely carrying books for a post-cinema Taylorian session. Use every space available, including, if it comes down to it, any orifices you’re comfortable filling.
The ideal game plan here is to buy your tickets in advance or from a machine, minimising contact time with the cinema staff. Walk calmly through to your screen and make sure you’re sat far from the doors so as to avoid detection. Then simply wait for the lights to dim and the trailers to start…
The cover of darkness and sound is perfect for your nefarious deeds, so use the trailers to tactically consume whatever is loudest or most conspicuous in your arsenal. Less noticeable items are safe to eat and drink at your leisure throughout the film, so do what you will and enjoy the show, but be aware of possible smells emanating from your questionable meat products. If you manage to avoid detection until the end of the film, then it’s time to…
The key both to stealth and to general human decency is to leave no trace. Popcorn buckets may lay strewn across the floor but make sure that your outside rubbish isn’t amongst them, as this will certainly raise suspicion from the cinema staff. Instead, take all your refuse with you and, carefully avoiding the gaze of the usher as you exit, make your way out of the cinema and to the nearest bin. If the job is clean and there are no complications, you can rinse and repeat again and again, making your student loan stretch further for more romantic possibilities with that classy LMH girl you just picked up. Who knows, perhaps next week you can sneak caviar into the Oxford Playhouse…