Back before the proliferation of fast food restaurants, families carried their lunches in picnic hampers and baskets and merely stopped on the side of the road for a mid-day feast without long lines, spilled milkshakes, and assembly line food. And picnic fare was much healthier and cheaper because it was Mom-made.
Several years ago on a lunch hour from work, I happened across a gorgeous coffee-table book about picnics. Page after glossy page showed the many ways one could craft an enchanting picnic. The woven baskets were overflowing with delectable foodstuffs as well as bottles of wine and lush flowers. Some of the pages showed Sharper Image-level technical picnic props such as pop-up tables and chairs, and some more fanciful spreads had real crystal, china tea cups and silver cutlery. I was enchanted by a blanket-strewn picnic that included a candelabra replete with dangling prisms!
As I poured over the recipes, I had a revelation: instead of spending $35 on a book about picnics, I should just have picnics! So I returned the book to the store rack, speculating that I already had the recipes for a nice picnic right at home in my grandmother's recipe box. One needn't have fancy pretentious food - just thoughtfully prepared provisions that are fresh and in season. Soon I found out how much fun it is to creative outdoor repasts for friends and family. Adding a requisite plaid blanket for sitting upon and a book makes for a delightful day that can begin in the morning and with enough refreshments, end only when shadows cast.
The picnic book did teach me one good lesson - sometimes instead of reading about how to do something, we should just do it. And while picnics may be old-fashioned, they hearken back to simpler times when life was slow...and humble tables beckoned from every roadside.
Favorite picnic fare:
Chicken salad sandwiches with spinach leaves
Cherry tomatoes mixed with olive oil and chopped basil with ricotta cheese as a dip
Celery stuffed with cream cheese and sprinkled with paprika
Homemade chocolate chip cookies
Grapes, apples, and pears (fall)
Watermelon, peaches (summer)
Do you have picnics?