As a youngster the mention of a 'picnic' made me cringe. The issue arose most often on the Yorkshire coast during family holidays in what passed for the summer season. Most often the cheese and tomato sandwiches were soggy and clammy and the Lucozade flat and of a colour and temperature wich gave rise to unhelpful associations. If a beach picnic, then wind-driven sand would be an inevitable garnish adding to the excruciating ritual.
It was when we emigrated to the United States that I discovered that a picnic need not be an event to be endured but to be celebrated. Boston baked beans are flavoured either with maple or with molasses and are traditionally cooked with salt pork in a beanpot. The beans are cooked in a beanpot nestled in a bed of embers placed near the outer edges of a hearth, about a foot away from the fire, for six to eight hours. I remember New England days filled with diverting outdoor activities in anticipation of our unearthing of the delicious and hearty meal which awaited us. This was my introduction as a teenager to a charming 'culture' of open-air eating and drinking, although the beverage served was of course Root Beer.
The culture of the suburban back-garden barbecue was one I never encountered, given my antipathy in respect of anything remotely suburban.
Then in Munich, where the Biergarten is a properly urban amenity, I came to appreciate the way in which the cool beer could be best enjoyed... at a table laden with victuals prepared at home and transported to the selected verdant venue in a capacious basket.
But there is more! A tablecloth is mandatory, as is proper china and silverware. If the view is of the sunset over a peaceful lake, as it was yesterday at Seehaus in the Englische Garten park, if the neighbours at adjacent tables oblige by taking the precious souvenir photo of our picnic, if the delicatessen set forth is a further credit to Mickey's culinary talents, then it is hard to imagine any more pleasant way of passing time.
That our family trio was augmented by the presence of Franzi, who had studied with Jessi in Maastricht, made the evening even more fun and worthy of this unashamedly nombrilist blog post!