How to make an iconic summer picnic & become the envy of your local park

July 17, 2019
Have An Iconic Summer Picnic With The Perfect Picnic Food

Although I’ve abandoned many meals to the arrival of furious wasps or dog dribble on my charcuterie board, I still think a summer picnic is one of the best things to do in summer.

I used to opt for a very dull supermarket meal deal whenever I ate outside. Until one day, whilst thumbing a no mayo ham sandwich packet, I noticed a group of people laughing over bowls of food which they piled on to their individual plates. They ate colourful salads and poured into each other’s drinks into glasses, taken from a golden weaved hamper. Not only was it aesthetically pleasing but it was more eco-friendly than my plastic wrapped meal deal.

The Picnic Society

Picnics are nothing new. According to History books, the French claim to have invented the ‘pique-nique’. But by the 19th Century, England had its own version, mainly reserved for moustached people in top hats or London’s trendy ‘Picnic Society’. 

Every member of the Picnic Society was expected to contribute. And honestly, that should become law. It isn’t fun lugging three bags worth of drinks, blankets, food and picnic paraphernalia in the sweltering heat while your friends turn up with nothing but the energy you now don’t have. 

To avoid sweat patches, a bad temper and a picnic that looks sadder than a hen party with no hens, allocate the following responsibilities for an Iconic Summer picnic.

By the way doll, this was originally an edition of my Sunday Letters. This letter is just one of the many tips I have for taking a moment to indulge. If you would like me to send you Sunday Letters, be a darling and sign up here.

Have An Iconic Summer Picnic With The Perfect Picnic Food
Perfect Picnic Food

Big English Balls

The Scotch Egg. This humble breaded ball lined with pork and a creamy egg heart has been the centrepiece of an English picnic for centuries. It was created by the don of picnic hampers, Fortnum & Mason specifically for a picnic. Even Gordon Ramsey rates them and shares his recipe for making one with an unusual twist.

Peppa Pig's Corpse

In the Wind & The Willows, Rat opens up his picnic hamper to reveal a range of cold ham and beef. Although I don’t trust rats when it comes to food, the documentation of his hamper in a popular literary book signalled the arrival of cold meats in a picnic. And when supermarkets arrived in the ‘50s, they began selling pre-sliced cuts of pastel pink ham and flaky pork pies that didn’t make the picnic hamper smell like Peppa pig’s corpse after a day in the sun. 

Tears Of Mayonnaise

Ever since the aristocrat, The Earl Of Sandwich invented the sandwich in the 1700s, England wouldn’t dream of living in a sandwich-less world. Traditionally, we’re known for eating cucumber in our sandwiches but the possibilities are endless. We fill it with everything; cheese & pickle, smoked salmon, breakfast, gravy and even potatoes. But never with jam and peanut butter. Separately fine, but together, vulgar. The Earl Of Sandwich would be weeping tears of mayonnaise in his grave.

Extra Mouth Tingle

During the ‘60s, the dairy industry was almost force-feeding a Ploughman’s Lunch into everyone’s mouth in order to sell more cheese. Consumers blindly accepted this new dish to the delight of the advertising execs and we’ve been adding it to picnics ever since. The Ploughman’s Lunch at its core is hard cheese (stilton or cheddar), sliced cold pink meat, messy spoonfuls of pickle and golden crusty bread. I add pickled onion for that extra vinegary mouth tingle.

Something Sweet

Sweet things are only for children and periods in my opinion. Which is why I’ll only pick summer berries as the sweet section of the picnic. But, I realise, this thought process can make me very unpopular at picnics. So, after researching what sweet-toothed English people ate in the 20th Century, I found that an iconic homemade Victoria Sponge was well loved. Or they’d bring along jam and clotted cream to artfully colour in their scones. I’d recommend these raspberry and almond scones from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Thankfully, chocolate was never welcome during alfresco eating. It melts and makes your summer picnic blanket resemble an incontinent old man’s pants.

The Heart Of A Summer Picnic

Every English person would have come into close proximity to a bottle of Pimms by the end of Summer. Which makes it a welcome addition to the picnic blanket, but bringing a range of fruits, ice, lemonade, jug and a Pimms bottle is just to much for my untoned arms to take. My advice is to grab a bottle of sparkling wine, or make it more classic- a simple gin and tonic. If you want a drink that will make your friends reach for the booze a little quicker, pre-make this Rhubarb & Ginger Gin.

P.S. Share this post with a friend so you can both throw the best picnic in the park!

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