I remember my first day in St Andrews with immense fondness. I was nervous to find out who shared my corridor. I was keen to see who shared my diverse interests of quizzes and crap TV. Most of all, I longed to drink alcoholic beverages and sample the new sweet delights of the famed Scottish chippy.
Luckily, Agnes Blackadder Hall (peace be upon her) had laid on all you could drink Aldi beer, accompanied by industrial quantities of Domino’s Pizza.
What better way to meet your future best man than slurping down 250mL bottles of Brasserie while wielding three slices of Meateor? However, as us intrepid freshers tucked into the cheapest food and drink the hall had to offer, less than a mile away swelled a foul, insatiable beast. A beast hungry for our money. For decades, students of all kinds, whether they be naïve freshers, idealistic semi-bejants or arrogant magistrands, have been prayed upon by a triumvirate of terror lurking in the dark mists beyond The Vic. Forget Bundy, Dahmer and Gacey; say hello to Courtyard, Dervish and Empire.
I know that I may be saying some- thing quite outrageous here; many students have a loyalty to their kebabbery of choice that is akin to a mother defending her child. I have seen countless drunken arguments outside 601 at 2am that consist solely of shouting the words “Dervish!” or “Courtyard!” at each other until an apparently satisfactory resolution is arrived upon. But did you know that both of these establishments are owned by the same person? So whether you buy a panini or a pizza, greasy fries or garlic bread, your money is tossed into the same soulless, bottom- less pit.
There is also the fact that the late- night food establishments are simply not value for money. A large kebab from Dervish will set you back £13.50, an astonishing sum for a meal which always makes me feel and smell like I’m going to die in the morning. Even a simple doner meat and chips costs as much as £6.50. Imagine the almost endless bounties of wonder that could be acquired from Aldi for such a cost! There may be some respite every Friday when toastie bar opens its doors to serve dirt-cheap snacks and give away free stale bread. But why do I have to sit there listening about the “message of Jesus” when I just want to line my Pablo-addled stomach?
There is also something quite un-St Andrews about the three kebab shops in town. One of my favourite things about where we live is that it is in so many ways profoundly unlike other universities. It’s unusual how small our town is.
The faded grandeur of the cathedral and the castle cast echoes back to a strange time when St Andrews was at the forefront of world religion and politics, something you just don’t get from the greyish red-brick universities dotted over the southern lands.
As a town of exceptions and differences, why are we settling for frankly average and uninteresting food establishments that could be found on almost any high street in the UK?
Well my friends, we no longer have to settle for average. For our salvation hast descended unto Bell Street, and promises to deliver us to the promised land of flavour and sundry textures. I talk of course about Rocca Italian Deli. To talk of Rocca is to talk of an institution, to talk of innovation, to talk of revelation. I never once thought I would want or need to buy salami from my phone at 1am, but it is now a necessary part of my life.
When the American founding fathers laid down the constitution of the United States of America, they had one guiding principle; that of freedom. The ideal that every man may choose his own destiny is one that has echoed down through time, and has infused Rocca deli with the very spirit of the Bill of Rights.
Just as it is an American’s right to free speech and to bear arms, it is now my right to order three kilograms of chorizo while other less enlightened beings queue up for their strips of reconstituted lamb just a few metres down Bell Street. It is my right as a proud citizen of St Andrews to eat Tiramisu in bed while steaming drunk. Comrades, it is my right to order coffee at 3am knowing full well I need to get up for a tutorial at 9am.
Whether it be price, food quality, atmosphere, wait times or the ease of stealing ham, Rocca knocks Dervish, Empire and Courtyard out of the park. There is now literally no reason for the trio of mediocrity to exist, except to serve the stupid and uninformed. Therefore, fellow students, I put it to you that we push this Bermuda Triangle of dreck into the sea where it belongs, and replace it with a glorious Rocca Empire, consuming all of Bell Street and beyond. If we can put a man on the moon, we can put an Italian Deli in Dervish.