(Note: this is an updated version of the original blog post I wrote July 20, 2017. Because it’s prime picnic season, I thought it was worth another look!)
In July, 2017, I wrote an article for Edible Sarasota titled Florida Picnic which included my own creations for summer dishes like chicken sandwiches with mango-mayo, lime-infused berry salad, and lemongrass-lime shrimp. Please check out the link for the full story and the recipes when you get a chance – they were pretty tasty.
When I sat at my desk to write the article, I thought about traditional picnics – the ones with the blue or red checkered tablecloth, a cute basket to hold all the good stuff, little containers and bags filled with wonderfully tasty things like fried chicken, potato salad, watermelon, potato chips (an absolute must in my book), lemonade, plastic utensils, paper plates, and plenty of napkins (which you chase regularly!).
I also thought about my childhood picnics. They were sort of a big deal in my family – a chance to enjoy delicious food, eat with our hands, and be out in the fresh air. I especially remember those olive & pimiento sandwiches made with mustard, lettuce and tomato and, of course, a big helping of my mom’s macaroni salad — you know, the one with the bits of hard boiled egg, a little mustard, mayo, and lots of celery and minced onion (mom sometimes even put sliced green olives) — so good. My dad liked to find a sturdy/clean bench for our picnics, but I preferred hanging out on a blanket on the ground. That was more ‘picnic-y’ in my book. For that, we used his heavy wool, green Army blanket because it was perfect for preventing sticks, bugs and dirt from poking through.
As kids, a picnic offered my brother and I a sense of adventure, because we didn’t really know what mom had packed, so we anxiously awaited the unveiling. And for some reason, we were immediately hungry when we arrived at our spot, even if we had recently eaten! I guess there’s something about fresh air that makes a person hungry. . .
A ‘traditional’ picnic is awesome. But a picnic, in whatever form, can actually happen anywhere. As a matter of fact, for this article’s photo shoot, one happened right in my very own backyard! If you haven’t tried it yet, a backyard is a great place for a picnic because you can simply toss down a blanket and you don’t need to fight traffic to get somewhere. And if you run out of something, you just dash into the house to get more. I like that.
A picnic can even happen on a boat with hot coffee and blueberry muffins (one of my faves); on a park bench with a sandwich and a bag of chips from the deli; or on the stoop of a city building, with just enough room for a napkin, a straw-filled soda bottle and a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.
Picnics come in all forms and they’re magical things because you don’t really have to follow rules or etiquette – simply sit in the sun or the shade of a mossy tree, take off your shoes, remove your tie and lie back in the cool grass, all while enjoying delicious treats and the company of loved ones. It doesn’t really matter WHERE you go for a picnic, just be sure to go, because it’s good for your soul.
I saw a quote somewhere that went something like “Happiness is like a potato salad that, when shared with others, becomes a picnic.” That sure sounds like happiness to me!