The Great British Picnic. The origins of the word are lost, but it reputedly comes from the French verb piquer which means to pick or peck and nique which means of little importance.
The picnic, though, has become a quintessentially British affair – think pork pies, scotch eggs, pickled onions, ham, a good, hard, mature cheddar like Keens or Montgomery and some good crusty bread.
There’s another term for a picnic – a potluck – a rather lovely phrase for a do where everyone brings a dish for all to share, family style.
So why all the picnic talk? Well, this week is National Picnic Week (18th-24th June) – as if you need a reason to celebrate this gorgeous tradition. Find a nice sunny spot near you and if you’re short on time pick up some lovely ingredients to tuck into – you really don’t need much to have a great al fresco meal.
A picnic can be as simple or as complex as you like – pop in to your local deli, grab some mozzarella, some tomatoes, some good olives, some nice salami and if they’ve got it, a bit of pane di musica, the wafer thin ‘music bread’. From home mix a little olive oil and vinegar in a jar with some salt and pepper and...you’ve got yourself a stonking picnic in seconds. Just don’t forget a nice chilled bottle of rosé...
Now – a British picnic may be, well, no picnic given our fabulous weather, but that shouldn’t dampen our spirits. Set your blanket up inside, posh it up by eating off proper china instead of paper plates and sip your champagne from glass flutes instead of plastic (doesn’t bubbles taste somehow strange out of plastic?).
There’s something quite romantic about sitting indoors while it pours down outside, sharing finger food from a Fortnum’s basket and feeling just a little smug and cosy. So head out or stay in – but make yourself a proper picnic for National Picnic Week.