A culinary guide to Raisin

Isabel Quattlebaum gives suggestions for the perfect Raisin menu.

Illustration: Rachel Cripps

Raisin season is simultaneously a time of great excitement, celebration, and a fair amount of trepidation. Academic families are formed and bonding activities take place throughout the month of October, leading up to Raisin Weekend. When Raisin Sunday finally arrives, it is one of the many duties of academic parents to provide their children with a nutritious meal to help them last through a long day of nefarious activities. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is especially true for Raisin Sunday, which for most students, begins early and ends late. The dishes served by parents vary in both nutrition and taste. It is tricky to strike a balance between a weird meal intended to punish your kids for showing up three minutes late, and a practical one that will fortify them for the day to come. Some families opt to go for the traditional route and prepare their children a wholesome breakfast to start the day. Other Freshers are not quite as fortunate, and their parents have more devious plans in mind. Here, I’ve compiled some Raisin culinary stories from current third year students who are entering academic parenthood, alongside some other dish ideas for your own family.

As a first year, my own breakfast of champions was a bowl of cornflakes soaked with Bailey’s liqueur instead of milk, all of which I was instructed to eat without using my hands. It was oddly delicious and extremely messy, but perhaps not the most practical food for the long day ahead – I was forced to sneak out of my academic mother’s house mid-morning to buy a sandwich. This resulted in me sitting in Pret on Market Street, eating my sandwich, dressed as a domino at 10:30 in the morning, holding an egg that I had been forbidden to let break. Fortunately, I was able to seek vengeance in my second year when I served my parents Spam at our Raisin Revenge party.

Cereal and alcohol seemed to be a recurring theme of Raisin feasts in 2015. Olivia Sutton, a third year Geography student, fondly remembers her meal, “We had eggnog and Coco Pops. I loved it!” Third year medical student Jane Moult also received an early morning boost in the form of cereal and Bailey’s after being woken up at dawn. “I was given a nice breakfast of bagels later in the morning. I don’t really like Bailey’s, but my parents did a great job.” Ms Moult said. I asked my own academic daughter, Eliza Quinn, if she was concerned at the prospect of an alcoholic breakfast. “Not concerned really, just grossed out. But I do love Bailey’s!” he said. Unfortunately for Eliza, her Raisin meal will be a surprise, so she will have to cope with a few of weeks of what I can only assume is eager anticipation.

Christina Mills, a third year management student, was given her meal a bit later in the day. “I had lots of brunch food! After a dip in the North Sea, our moms had prepared a ton of bacon and eggs. It was egg-cellent!” she recalled. Third year medic Esther Lee, who adopted as a second year, also gave her children their meal further into the day. Her family dined on the finest pasta, chips, and chicken nuggets. Ms. Lee described her choices as “staple foods to keep them going”, while still being very cost effective. “Aldi is very useful for Raisin meals,” she advised. Bulk shopping at Aldi or Morrison’s for food and drink can really cut down on costs and allow for a wider range of selection than your average Tesco haul.

Alcohol and cereal may not be the most practical choice of food, but it does make for an entertaining story. If you really want your academic family to survive raisin with their health intact, a large meal is a necessity. Raisin is traditionally a boozy affair, and while this certainly isn’t the case for every family, a hearty meal with lots of carbs can keep the energy up and prevent a midday drag. Even without the involvement of drinking, Raisin Sunday is an all day event. Rebecca Phelan, a third year Psychology and Biology student, says she intends on giving her academic children plenty of food. Her mother gave her potato smiles, a tradition she plans to pass down to her own family. Pasta, chips, and hash-browns are all starchy enough to line the stomach while being inexpensive and vegetarian friendly. New academic mom Hannah Walters recalls what she has termed “strategic carbo-loading” at her Raisin. She confessed, “I remember eating like, four bagels and a big stack of pancakes.” She stressed the importance of filling up before a long afternoon filled with debauchery.


Ms Walters was adamant that the stack of pancakes was a hit at her Raisin, so getting back to the basics with a classic pancake breakfast is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Pancake mix can be purchased, or, they can be made from scratch if you really want to impress your kids. A larger batch of batter can be easily prepared for extensive academic families. Pancakes can also be made to accommodate any vegan family members by swapping out the milk and eggs for soy milk and vegetable oil. A quick and easy breakfast, a fluffy stack of pancakes dripping in syrup and fruit will fortify even the most exhausted Fresher.

Muffin Tin Omelette

An omelette is a worldwide breakfast staple, but it is not the simplest of meals to cook for a large crowd. Enter the muffin tin. Simply whisk some eggs together, add some vegetables, cheese, or meat, pour it into the tins, and bake. Muffin tin liners are highly recommended to prevent the eggs from sticking to the pan. They can even be made ahead of time and frozen to be reheated later, so you may find yourself snacking on the leftovers the next day while dressing your family in their foam fight costume. Large quantities of these are cheap and easy to cook, making them a perfect Raisin breakfast item.

Baked Goods

If you’re not a regular mom, and are instead a cool mom, consider indulging your academic kid’s sweet tooth. I would recommend whipping up some baked goods. Any type of muffin is sure to be a crowd pleaser, and making large amounts is not difficult. This is another dish that can be made ahead of time and stored. They can also be taken on the go, as many first years spend much of their Raisin running through town on scavenger hunts or races. As October progresses, you may be lucky enough to find some canned pumpkin puree at Tesco. Pumpkin muffins are just basic enough to have your kids mock you a bit, but they are also undeniably delicious.


As a South Carolinian, I am perhaps a little bit biased when it comes to grits. Whenever I begin to expound on the merits of grits, any Brit within a mile radius is immediately confused. Grits, by definition, are small, broken bits of corn that are thankfully stocked in the international aisle of Tesco. They are served in a variety of dishes, most popularly with shrimp and gravy. Similar to polenta, they are inexpensive and easy to make large batches of. To cook them, simply boil in water or milk until the liquid is dissolved. When loaded with cream, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper, it is a delicious mush that can energize and warm up a cold Fresher after any spontaneous early morning pier jump. Its scarcity in the United Kingdom will make it something that many people haven’t yet experienced. Vegetables and sausage can be added as well to really give you something that will stick to your ribs.

Planning a Raisin menu requires a lot of consideration. A parent must take into account dietary restrictions and timing, while also decide how best to help their sons and daughters make it to the end of the day. Some families choose to go for a non-traditional meal that usually involves copious amounts of alcohol or terribly disgusting dishes. When asked what he planned on serving to his children, third year student Clement Yeung enthusiastically replied “baby food!”. While this a fun strategy for parents at the time, they may regret their choice of entrée when revenge rolls around the next year. Its also important to ensure that what you are serving your children is safe to consume, even if it isn’t the tastiest. Be sure to stay away from raw foods or anything expired, no matter how tardy your children are. Some families even enjoy a more civilized fare of waffles and bacon. Many parents decide that lunch food is the most effective. All this being said, at the end of that exhausting, exciting, happy, and probably a bit embarrassing Sunday, what you cooked will be the farthest thought from your mind. Whatever you choose to serve your family, it is the memories that you make together that will matter the most and last the longest. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.