Picnic 101

"Always carry a corkscrew and the wine shall provide itself." -Basil Bunting "You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese." -Anthony Bourdain "She planned days as if they were artistic events. One afternoon we went to Tybee Island for a picnic; we ate blueberries and drank champagne tinted with curacao and listened to Miles Davis..." -Susan Hubbard What makes the perfect picnic? • Location: A vineyard. A lonely spot littered with Greek or Roman ruins. A hotel room with a view over red-tiled roofs. • Food: A baguette, cheese that smells "like ze feet of ze angels", dry salami, maybe a rotisserie chicken, grapes. • Wine: Of course! • Ideal company: My beautiful bride of 22 years. Any tips? • Cheese that comes wrapped in leaves and tied with twine is worth a chance.
• Borrow some actual wine glasses from your hotel (stemware is much more romantic than plastic cups). I figure, if anyone knows how to picnic in Europe, it must be the Rickniks. Any advice or secrets on how to make a picnic memorable? Any unforgetable European picnic memories to share?

Posted by Teresa
Seattle
463 posts

I take along a couple of sporks and put them in my daybag, along with some napkins (or I collect an extra napkin or two from fast-food places or Starbucks). I bought some heavy-duty sporks from Amazon, and they've been terrific. I can buy yogurt or pudding or a pasta salad from the dairy/deli case at a grocery store, and I'll have something with which to eat it. I just wash them in my hotel sink afterward and pop them back in a plastic baggie for the next time. I also like to have individually wrapped Handi-wipes (or similar) so that I can "wash" my hands after eating, and at least they'll feel relatively clean until I can get to a sink.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Any unforgetable European picnic memories to share? Earliest picnic memory and the most vivid - Scotland, about 1969. I was 4 years old. Sandwiches were white supermarket bread with either fish paste or Marmite. Or maybe strawberry jam. Hard boiled eggs with a little pot of salt to dip them in. Orange squash to drink, out of Tupperware beakers. The closest the squash had come to an actual real orange was the picture on the bottle. It was raining so hard that we couldn't get out of the car, so we had our picnic on the back seat. The windows steamed up, so we couldn't see whichever bit of Scottish moorland we were parked in that day. Such is mid-summer in Scotland. Never could abide fish paste sandwiches.

Posted by John
Tampa, FL, USA
67 posts

Sometimes it can be unexpected. One of the best memories of a UK trip was my wife and I getting a quick meal at a drug store outside Kew Garden train station in '94. We had some excellent ham and cheese on baguettes, weird flavored crisps (prawn, ham, and pickle), and snapple. We sat on a bench in the middle of a road and really enjoyed it. I think I spent all of $6 on the whole thing. Weather was sunny and crisp. It was a little market street and we people watched as folks did their shopping. I was really grateful. My wife was pregnant at the time and a very picky eater. We spent much, much more money on some sit down restaurants that we enjoyed a 1/10th as much. My tips? I would try to get some fresh fruit despite the price. Once we had some grapes that tasted like heaven. Get some hard boiled eggs. Cheese that comes in wax. Some kind of change up from the other stuff you have been eating which is probably heavy on carbs and fat. Some wine or a bottle of good beer if you enjoy that.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
678 posts

Kevin seems to have had a similar childhood to me. My early memories of picnics were sitting in a car somewhere beside the North Sea to escape the parky weather. My other memories are going to Headingly for the Ashes and either getting sunburnt or having to shelter under an umberella. In both cases we were eating hard boiled eggs. However, since you are living in Europe, my experience leads me to advise you to look out for wasps, snakes and other "foreign bodies".

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
954 posts

Thomas - thank you! Wonderful topic. @Kevin - hah! Some of my best childhood memories are like that, too. @Teresa - SPORKS! I just love that word. Also? A great idea. Memory #1: my sweet 16 trip to England with my mother. We bought a small basket of fresh raspberries and a couple of Pippin apples and ate them while waiting for the train back from Oxford to London. I have never tasted berries as sweet, or apples as crisp and full of sunshine. It was magic. Memory #2: the prior year, with Suitcase Theatre (think Up with People, but not ICKY), we spent the 4th of July on a mountain top in Wales. One one of the guys almost choked to death on a fly on the hike up, and we couldn't stop laughing. We had bad ham sandwiches and boiled eggs and orange squash, and adorned our hair with those tiny paper American flags that come on little toothpicks. Memory #3: college trip with Ceece, went to Cherbourg to look at the danse macabre in the basilica. We bought a baguette, a log of chevre, and a jar of Nutella - my first Nutella, OMG! - and sat on a bench at the waterfront, munching away in a light drizzle. Wonderful.

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
149 posts

Oooh... love this topic! Ok, best "picnic" ever was an indoor one - it was the last night in the 16,000 sq.ft chateaux that our group of 10 had rented. I decided that "dinner" would be a picnic featuring everything in the walk in that we'd accumulated over the week - we had 8 different pates, at least 10 different kinds of saucisson, some amazing smoked beef tenderloin, 15 kinds of cheese, baguettes, cornichons, mustard, apples, pears and quite a bit of wine to go through... seated around a large, roaring wood fire, we ate, drank and just reveled in being together...
Cost of the spread - $100... memories? Pricless.

Posted by Judy
Adelaide, SA, Australia
802 posts

Keith. I am sitting back and waiting for the question 'What are Ashes'?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

The Ashes are the opportunity for Australian tourists to return home with their tails between their legs having been trounced by the three Lions led out by Cookie. The First Test is 10–14 July at Trent Bridge. The Second Test will be 18–22 July at Lord's. The Third Test will be 1–5 August at Old Trafford. The Fourth Test will be 9–13 August at the Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street. and the Fifth Test will be 21–25 August at The Oval.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
398 posts

I carried 2 wine glasses in my backpack for 30 days travel by train. They were a sturdy pair from a picnic basket we have. I hate drinking out of plastic - especially wine! I also carried paper plates, small cutlery (airline sized), a small paring knife which I left behind, salt & pepper & a variety of ziploc bags. We love picnics! Anywhere!

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1519 posts

My parents used to take us for breakfast picnics in a nearby park. We'd play in the creek and catch crawdads while they built a fire and cooked bacon and eggs in a giant skillet.

Posted by Beth
Boulder, Colorado, USA
74 posts

KD cruise on the Rhine last fall. Round trip Bacharach to St. Goar. Watched the sites and took photos outbound and unpacked the picnic on the way back. Espresso served by a waiter along with grocery store lunch on top deck in the sunshine. Remembering this and other European picnics is making me smile. Childhood picnics of sandy sandwiches at Jones Beach nearly ruined picnics for me :-)

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

Childhood picnics of sandy sandwiches at Jones Beach nearly ruined picnics for me You had sandy sandwiches at Jones Beach, too?!? So did I. And sometimes sandy sandwiches at Sunken Meadow, too. I had a great picnic on the trail towards Kleine Scheidegg last year.

Posted by Leslie
Colville, WA
252 posts

Same here on the sandy picnics at Jones Beach. Small world. I've enjoyed lots of great picnics but my two favorites were more about the "ideal company" though the food was great also. A picnic lunch of quiche, cheeses, baguettes and fruit with my daughter in Paris and a croissant, brie, salami and fruit from the Albert Cuypmarkt in Amsterdam with my son. Both in incredible sunshine which just added to them.

Posted by Judy
Adelaide, SA, Australia
802 posts

That's a wonderful outline of our great game of cricket. I had an American tourist in the Visitor Information Centre last week and we discussed the various sports played in the USA which are played here. He tried to relate baseball to cricket. Not even close. You don't play a game of baseball for 5 days and still finish up with a draw and no clear result!!!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

The cricket doggerel is verbatim exactly as it appears on the Internet, including from ESPN and various other links.

Posted by Gerard
Temora, NSW, Australia
172 posts

Keep waiting, not all Cricket matches can be described as "Ashes".

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

Three of my favorite picnics (in no particular order) Trunk picnic in Germany with the mountains in the background on our way to Austria. Breads, cheese, Germany pickles, paprika chips, fruit, Mezzo mix, ham and my European CD playing in the car and of course one of my grandsons. It was dinner time in St Maximes and this time I was traveling alone. So, lunch seems ok when you are alone, but dinner felt a bit weird that night... (like I had no friends:)) As everyone else headed to the restaurants I stopped in a little pizza place and got a carryout to take along with my camera and journal down to the beach. When I say everyone headed to the restaurants, I mean everyone, as I had the whole beach as far as I could see completely to myself for about 30 minutes. Amazing solo picnic. Hot, humid night on a white sand beach with gentle waves, dune grass and a full moon that was hazy because of all the humidity. This picnic was so good we forgot to eat the food:)

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1583 posts

The "cricket" thing is all a over the internet, particularly on sites for preachers to find source material for sermons, like sermons illustrated.com. It is attributed to an April 30, 1992 edition of Bits & Pieces and originally referred to baseball. I think the sermon connection is with patience or futility or something like that.

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
631 posts

We picked up some cheese and sausage from the market in Les Eyzies in the Dordogne. Stopped at a bakery and bought a baguette and had a bottle of wine with us. Went down to some picnic benches by the river for lunch. A group of school children, probably first graders, with little hats for the sun and sack lunches came out with their teachers. It was incredibly charming to see how cute they were and well behaved. The food was great and only made better by the ambience. Not something we could have planned for or that you would see in a brochure.

Posted by Rob
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
370 posts

The most memorable for me was a picnic spot across the lake from Hallstatt, Austria. Along with cheese, bread, and fruit we had a venison sausage that we bought at our hotel/meat shop in Andechs, Germany. The view was spectacular! A close second was a picnic along a road in the Alsace Region of France with a loaf of crusty bread from Colmar and a sausage with blueberries from Eguisheim. We also had a delicious cheese from a store in Colmar, an apple from our hotel, and a tube of spicy mustard from Germany. I don't remember what we ate, but sitting on a bench overlooking Vaduz Castle in Liechtenstein was also a very cool lunch spot!