We have it on good authority that summer is about to return and we can’t wait. There is something almost magical about the British summer with long evenings, the smell of freshly mown lawns, the gentle buzz of bees . . . It’s a wonderful time of year and we love to get outside for as much of it as we can.
Eating outside is a big part of our summer, whether that’s outside on the patio, a sandy sandwich at the beach or the archetypal gingham picnic blanket in the park. Everyone does it slightly differently but here are our tips for the perfect picnic.
Keep it simple
Picnics are not the place for complicated, fussy food. Think about how people will eat the food you take, and how they’ll clean up afterwards. Sticky fingers and mucky faces are endearing on children but the thought might discourage adults from eating some food so plan ahead. Serving ‘clean’ food doesn’t mean you have to compromise on flavour, and that’s one good reason that cheese is such a good idea; it travels well, needs no preparation, everyone can help themselves, and with the flavour developing at room temperature, it works perfectly to have outside for your meal.
Don’t let insects ruin the day
Bugs at a picnic can be a nuisance but there are ways to deter them. Citronella candles might not be practical for a picnic, though the logic still works; take food like grapefruits that are a natural repellent, and try to keep food in containers if you can. Mason jars with lids and straws are a great way to keep flying insects out of drinks but if you don’t have any, don’t despair – paper straws and inverted cupcake cases do a very good job too!
‘Travel light’ isn’t always a phrase we pay much attention to, and it’s not necessarily something we advocate for picnics either, but as you will have to carry everything we do suggest packing smarter. Pack food in reusable containers so you can keep things fresh, and take a bag with you to collect rubbish so you can take it home and recycle it. There are some great picnic sets available now so whether you choose a traditional wicker basket or a practical backpack, there is space for cutlery, crockery and food. Don’t forget the key ingredient: the picnic blanket! If an Englishman’s home is his castle then his picnic blanket will also allow him to be Lord of the Manor for a while; stake your claim – albeit temporarily – to a patch of grass, stretch out and relax.
There is no right or wrong, so whether you’re planning a romantic evening à deux watching a concert, or a more animated family gathering with added ball games thrown in, take the time to enjoy it, and let us have your top tips for eating outside too.
And if our source isn’t correct and we have to wait a little longer for glorious sunshine, we’ll be adopting a traditionally stoic British attitude and not letting that deter us. We reserve the right to pack a few extra layers and replace the salads with a thermos flask!