Picnics – Al Fresco Lunch for Summertime.


Given the short duration of summers in northern countries, people enjoy picnics as often as practicable when the weather starts turning warm. Picnics can occur anywhere, anytime and spontaneously, or may be planned as a family outing.

Spontaneous picnics in a city would simply involve a fresh baguette, a piece of cheese, maybe a ripe tomato, or cool cucumber, scallions, salt and pepper, along with a light bottle of wine, but even fine beer will do. A nice, quiet place in a park, or the campus ground of a university could be appropriate. I am thinking of the university grounds of Cambridge or Oxford. In the U.S.A Cornell, or any other Ivy League university ground are appropriate places.

There is no shortage of quiet, cool parks in Toronto or any fair-sized city in Ontario or elsewhere in Canada. The only problem may occur with alcohol. People, and so the police may strenuously object to alcohol consumption in unlicensed public places like parks or mall parking lots.

Europeans, particularly those inhabiting the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, are masters of organizing family picnics. First the idea is to get out of the crammed city, and escape the toxic fumes of trucks and poorly maintained cars emit, the second is to get the large family together the third to experience the cool breezes of the sea, and have an opportunity to cook out-of-doors.

Family members will start preparations a few days in advance and cook stuffed vine leaves, romano- or soy beans cooked in olive oil, fresh tomatoes, carrots, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley, plus onion and garlic, puff pastry or phyllo dough turnovers stuffed  with feta cheese, eggs, spinach, salt and pepper and fried or baked. Early in the morning fresh salad ingredients will be chopped and tossed together. Dressing is kept aside in a jar for application just before service.

Tender morsels of leg of lamb are marinated in lemon juice, herbs, olive oil, bay leaf and onions to make them even more tender, and early in the morning skewered along with tomato slices, or wedges, green and red pepper prices. The more ambitious families opt for a whole lamb and cook it skewered on a huge open fire, basting the lamb with oil mixed with wines.

It is always a good idea to bring a blanket on which to spread all victuals and to keep various critters away. Blankets provide comfort. Spread the food and enjoy the tranquility of nature, verdant colours, and the company of family and friends. It also keeps your cloths clean.

It is advisable to prepare food that would not spoil in the heat i.e mayonnaise, egg products, anything that can spoil uncooked. Fish, especially crustaceans must be transported on crushed ice.

Always select your companions carefully, except for family members.

The same applies to the selection of location while some people prefer tranquility others seek companionship and crowds.
Wineries, particularly in Oregon, California’s Napa Valley, some Washington State and British Columbia wineries offer well-furnished picnic areas for their customers and tourists.

As a courtesy to others, upon leaving, ensure that the picnic area is clean and tidy. If you have lit a fire, extinguish it fully before leaving.

Picnics are fun, enjoyable, provide an opportunity to commune with nature and contemplate life in general. Don’t waste any opportunity to take advantage of this beautiful pastime.

Needless to say the best wine for such occasions are rose, well chilled and refreshing for the food on hand.


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