The Picnic Papers

Ahh, the weekend is here. It’s a beautiful time to head out, soak up the sun, grab your friends along and have some fun.

If you are like most Indians, chances are that you’ve been on at least a few picnics in your life.

And if you haven’t, why not?

Dining al fresco with friends and family is one of the most pleasurable ways to spend the day, although it certainly wasn’t always that way and definitely is a product of centuries of Human Evolution. It’s hard to envision prehistoric man enjoying lunch by the lake as much as we do.

So how and when did the picnic become popular?

Historians agree that the English word “picnic” comes from the French term “pique-nique”, which was used from the mid-1600s on to describe gourmands who brought their own wine when dining out.

But elegant meals outdoors were probably first eaten during the Middle Ages, when hunting became a favoured pursuit of the leisure class. These medieval hunting feasts were depicted in artworks of the time, like the ballads of Robin Hood and the famous Bayeux tapestry.

Up until Victorian times, picnics were primarily a pursuit of the wealthy. It’s easy to understand why: working men and women barely had enough means to scrape together a proper meal indoors, let alone pack up a feast to go.

But the Victorian era saw the picnic cross class boundaries. The seminal book on British cooking and housekeeping, Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, gave detailed instructions on how to hold a picnic.

For 40 people, Mrs. Beeton insisted on, among many other things, cold roast lamb, four meat pies, four roast chickens, two roast ducks, four dozen cheesecakes and one large cold plum pudding. To quench the picnickers’ thirst, three dozen quart bottles of beer were on the menu, as well as claret, sherry and brandy.

Of course, picnics have been somewhat simplified since then. Grab some of your favourite and easy to carry food items, get a rug, get your ipod dock, a frisbee, your friends, and voila, you are ready to enjoy a perfect picnic.

The most delicious and easy to transport cold cuts of meat, slices of your favourite bread, fabulous fresh fruits, bags of chips and beer on ice are all hallmarks of modern-day picnics.

When it comes to choosing food for your picnics, the world is your oyster. Check out our cold cuts section for the best meaty delights to make your sun kissed sandwiches even better.

Don’t stay at home, head out and breathe some fresh air with your friends and family, and while you are at it, don’t forget to catch some Pokémons!

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