Although “eating outdoors” may have been a part of civilization since the beginning, the concept of enjoying a picturesque relaxed lunch were in fad post French revolution (1789) when the royal parks were opened to the French public. This concept saw a gradual evolution with hunting parties, Renaissance era country feasts and Victorian garden parties, especially the latter as grand occasions complete with tables, chairs, linens, crystals, catering and gourmet food to top it. Known as “pique-nique” (France, 1794) then, this event turned out to be a social calendar earmarked occasion, catching the trend across Europe and became officially known as “picnic”.
The tales of Robin Hood are one of the first accounts of picnicking when Robin with his band of Merry Men would dine informally under the shelter of trees. The concept of “picnicking” once started had caught on with picnic societies, long picnics as well as “picnic fashion” and “themed social picnics” being created. With International Picnic Day today (June 18th) and to get the most reluctant picnic goers out there, here are a few picnic trivia around the world to get one started.
To have a superb picnics with cushions, rugs and furniture, one would have to go to Turkey, where the trend was initiated. Along with comfort, games and string lighting; a potluck-style selection of stuffed veggies, grilled meats and desserts are often brought. Towards nightfall, picnics still going on turn into bonfires complete with music, dancing and raki (Turkish licorice-flavored alcohol).
Enjoying the National Picnic Week held each June in Britain, it would be incomplete without the Scotch Egg. One of the most iconic picnic foods created towards the late 18th century, these fried sausage-wrapped boiled eggs were easy to be eaten on the road. Other choices like pasta salad, fish and chips, potato salad, deviled eggs, cheese, brownies, cookies, sandwiches, subs and many more form form the huge list of picnic foods which taste good when served cold.
Picnics in the French outdoors especially Bastille Day involves fine dining especially as far as wines are concerned. Plastic cups spoil the flavour and aroma of wine with fresh air. On a personal front, keeping plastic to a minimum and enjoying reusable Tupperware will make the outdoor dining more enjoyable and nature safe.
To enjoy Christmas picnics, the Argentinian beaches would be good place to start. Holidays outdoors are celebrated complete with roasted or barbecued turkey or goat. Going north, Americans enjoy picnics specially on the Fourth of July where along with competitive races, three legged races and other picnic games; speed eating contests of pies, watermelons, burgers and the like have become the major “game attraction”.
While cherry blossoms or “hanami” announce the Japanese picnicking season; the Italians prefer Easter Monday, known as Angel’s Monday or Pasquetta as picnic time. One of the most iconic picnics was the Pan-European Picnic (August 19, 1989) where picnics were held with hundreds of East Germans grabbed the opportunity to cross into Austria. Weeks later Hungary had opened the border, the Iron Curtain had been breached, and on 9th November the Berlin Wall came down. While croquet, soccer, and badminton are common picnic games; kubb is a regular game in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. This lawn game is a mix between bowling and chess, where players attempt to knock over wooden blocks called kubbs with wooden batons.
With the great outdoor weather, it would be remiss to lose out on the opportunity to go back to childhood, capture the bliss of the summer skies and comfort food, while finding peace in the midst of nature. The only catch is to enjoy, being nature safe and eco-friendly. As the best things of life are captured by moments and memories; the essence to living is to make more and enjoy them too.
“If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down in the woods today, you’d better go in disguise
For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain
Because today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic
Every teddy bear who’s been good is sure of a treat today
There’s lots of marvellous things to eat and wonderful games to play
Beneath the trees where nobody sees they’ll hide and seek as long as they please
That’s the way the teddy bears have their picnic “