ColumnIt’s always time for a picnic; here are 10 rules for successful outdoor eating.
Late summer means an earlier sunset, which means that, if you’re like me and trying to eat outside at every possible moment of your existence (no, really), you have to be a little more speedy when it comes to your picnic planning.
It was a regular Wednesday evening. Middle of the week, the air a little balmy, and being tired from a few too many things on the to-do list meant that there was only one dinner option: climb to the top of a hill on a bicycle and have a picnic. I believe in the culinary cyclist rules after all, and fresh air and dinner al fresco is a good solution to any mid-week lull.
The beauty of the impromptu picnic is that it’s just that: unplanned and spontaneous. Of course, more elaborate picnics are always worth the effort. Just ask the Portland Picnic Society – yes, that is really a thing – who organize monthly picnic extravaganzas, complete with location scouting and deviled eggs.
“But Anna…” you say, “isn’t summer almost over?”
Yes, yes it is.
Picnics can happen any time of the year. And as such, there are some key rules for impromptu picnicking. Consider this your guide to late summer/early fall enjoyment.
1. Serve Real Food
We have already discussed the delights of eating outdoors, and how if you are outdoors, there’s no excuse not to eat real food. Ok, ok, you may buy a bag of sweet potato chips, but for the love of god, make your own tapenade.
2. If You Are Serving Real Food, Bring Real Plates
Even if you are biking to your picnic destination, bring plates. Hint: there is no better protection than being wrapped in a picnic blanket.
3. Serve a Special Drink
4. Designate a “Picnic Tablecloth”
It doesn’t have to be an actual tablecloth, a tea towel will work, but you and your bread crumbs will be happy you have it.
5. Invest in a Swiss Army Knife
Seriously, you should never be eating outside without one.
6. Have a Small Wooden Cutting Board
Whether you are serving cheese or slicing something, a small wooden board comes in very handy and it packs well.
7. Always Bring Dark Chocolate
Actually, this is just a good life policy in general. And if you accidentally let your chocolate sit in the sun for too long and it melts, use it as a spread on crackers or cookies (trust me, speaking from life experience here).
8. Remember the Trash Bag
The most often forgotten item and the most appreciated, post picnic mess.
That salad would be better put together at home, trust me. Unless of course you’re just adding a sprinkling of herbs for a final touch. But seriously, keep your outdoor eating low hassle.
10. Invite Your Friends
Everyone likes going to a picnic, whether it’s on a late summer evening or on a snowy winter hike. Eating outdoors is for any season, so have at it.
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This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’ weekly column at EcoSalon: Foodie Underground, an exploration of what’s new and different in the underground movement, and how we make the topic of good food more accessible to everyone. More musings on the topic can be found at www.foodieunderground.com.
Image: Anna Brones