For my mom’s 60th birthday this year we wandered through antique shops, reminiscing on things from our mutual childhoods — a copper pot she used to cook with would catch my attention, a ceramic doll would remind her of my great grandmother. These things, while old, held memories that could be recalled instantly, giving them never-ending life. While antiquing, both of us had been drawn to a dark green picnic basket, and like a Siren song, we were held captive while in its presence…and we both regretted not purchasing it. What is it about picnics that are still so beautifully romantic and whimsical? Next time, I’m buying a picnic basket!
In honor of National Picnic month here are a few items in our collection to inspire your own picnic in the park:
The Picnic: A History by Walter Levy is a sweet little book that explores the origins of the picnic and how cultures around the world have contributed to its modern day existence. The author describes the food in picnics which run from simple to elaborate; includes discussions with food writers on its embodiment; and captures the literary presence of the picnic from Agatha Christie to Ernest Hemingway to Jane Austen. The picnic’s tale is told “when life is not a picnic, it’s not worth living.”
The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket by Marnie Hanel takes a hands-on approach to planning your picnic with recipes and checklists, all with attention to detail; but it’s up to you how simple or elaborate you want your picnic to be. Using the book as a guide, you can get ideas for easy-to-pack nibbles from the grocery store or go all-out and make your own mayo. With lovely illustrations, this book is the starter guide to picnicking.
A Perfect Day for a Picnic: Over 80 Recipes for Outdoor Feasts to Share With Family and Friends by Tori Finch. With themed menus, this book has picnic ideas for everyone, from a teddy bear picnic for the kiddos to a bohemian setting for a laidback picnic adventure in nature. One thing I noticed, however, is that it may not be easy to come by some ingredients for certain recipes; but, I suggest using this book as a guide, discover your own dishes, and make them your own.
The Portable Feast: Creative Meals for Work and Play by Jeanne Kelley. While not all about picnics, this book has colorful and wonderful food ideas that are perfect for a packed basket. I enjoyed the concept of easy picnic-like meals for work and play. If you have access to beautiful fruits and vegetables available in our farmer’s markets and a greenspace nearby, take advantage and get outside! Don’t let the picnic end on the blanket — take it with you wherever you go.