The simple pleasures of dining outdoors are some of the things that make life truly worth living. It is hardly a surprise or news that food often tastes better when eaten outside in the open air. There is just something delightful about eating when surrounded by novel surroundings, whether that’s atop a cliff, on a beach, or your local park bench.
Picnics have a long and illustrious history. Back in the day, during the 18th and 19th centuries, the whole idea of picnics was based around the communal sharing of food. Every attendee would bring with them something to contribute to food and entertainment.
Picnics were so popular during these times that the rustic romance created by a beautiful picnic setting became a reliable source of inspiration for painters and poets for centuries. Today, people picnic for a lot more than just food. Picnics are a source of escape from the monotonous contemporary lifestyles that we live in.
There are few things more pleasurable than sitting a sunny park with a picnic basket in hand accompanied by great company. Even when you are alone, picnics can provide you a much-needed boost to your overall wellbeing and it has a lot with being out in nature.
Here’s the thing though, when planning picnics, most people aspire for perfection. Truthfully, however, there is no such thing as the perfect picnic. In reality, Mother Nature is a pitiless mistress who doesn’t care about your vigilantly laid out plans or scrupulously carved cucumber slices. That’s why it is so important to think some things through before heading out.
You could always try and gung-ho it. However, if you really want to turn your picnic into a memorable event, then you will need to organize a few things. To help you out here is how to plan a great picnic:
Be prepared to deal with insects
When picnicking, even the most committed lover of animals will be hard-pressed to welcome uninvited insects and bugs to the feast. But then again, if you are dining al fresco, then insect presence is almost inevitable- you are in their space, after all.
The best way to deter insects such as wasps and bees is to avoid them in the first place by finding the right location. Avoid setting up close to water, beautiful as it may be. As such, areas such as ponds or anywhere with standing water, which provides the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and midges, should be avoided.
If you can, try and find a breezy hilltop. Not only will it provide you with great views of the surroundings but a lot of flying insects hate wind which means you will have less of them to deal with.
Pack picnic-ready foods
Aside from bugs, the crunch of gritty soil between your teeth seems like another inescapability of dining outdoors. However, there are ways you can avoid it. Opt for picnic-ready foods such as filled baguettes or wraps.
Cold sandwiches, scotch eggs, chilled salads, sausage rolls, and well as icy treats and beverages are always welcome on warm days. Don’t forget to add a dessert of some sort, whether you prefer classics like brownies and cookies or something as simple as candy and chocolate.
Picnics are best when they are casual affairs. As such, rather than plan an elaborate menu, consider creating a buffet spread that you can easily lay out when you arrive. Buffet spreads are especially great if you are picnicking with a group of people.
Location, location, location matters
The great thing about picnics is that they can as simple or as elaborate as you want them to be. This means that you can set up in your backyard or go for something creative like picnicking in the forest. Not all picnic locations are created equal; lush greenery, fields of flowers, water bodies, and mountains can be hard to come by when you live in the city.
For most people living in the city, the zoo, park, or any path of grass that can allow you to spread your outdoor blanket will do (take what you can get). It may not be the most romantic of settings, but it will be accessible, which is another thing that you have to consider heavily when picking a location for your picnic setup.
Speaking of blankets, invest in a high quality one, especially if you plan on making picnics a habit. Go for a durable, well-constructed one that has an impenetrable water and dirt shield surface so that you can keep those pesky insects and dirt at bay.
Figure out how you will transport your food
You want to enjoy fresh food when you get to your picnic so transport it wisely. Meals that are to be eaten cold are pretty straightforward to pack in a cooler box. However, if you are carrying a dish that needs to remain warm, consider keeping it in the cooking vessel you prepared it instead of transferring it to a different container.
Remember to pack 2 containers- one for your perishable items and another for tableware. Any cold food or beverages that you need to carry can be kept in your cooler box. Don’t have a picnic basket? No problem. Simply pack your food items in a clean cardboard box.
Imagine this: It is a warm (yet not too warm) day in summer. Beneath the haven of an old oak tree sits a red and white checked table cloth, spread on the greenest of grass. You and your loved one sit as the gentle breeze provides a cooling effect; this is what the perfect picnic looks like.
And if you want to experience it, you must put in the work. The last thing you want is to head out only to end up with a nightmare. The good news is that a picnic can be as simple and as elegant as you want to make it. With the pointers shared above, you should be able to have a great al fresco dining experience.