As far as I´m concerned, with summer officially here, the real picnic season is over. It´s far too hot. However, it´s really just beginning. Beach picnics and trips to the river, garden lunches and pool parties are just getting into gear. And as long as you go up in to the mountains, it is still cool enough to enjoy a grand day out.
Which is great. I love a picnic. It´s my favourite thing on earth. I can think of few better things than to lie on a patch of grass, in the shade, by some body of water.
However, I´m a firm advocate of the organized picnic. The impromptu is all very well if there are few people and one of them is in charge. Or if it´s inside the city, where amenities are close at hand. I really really hate to be out in the wild without a corkscrew.
Also, the type of person who considers that a stop on the way at a petrol station is enough foraging finds little favour with me. Two cans of Red Bull and a bag of cheetos is not a picnic. It´s al-most an insult, so watch it.
I think the ideal picnic food should be neatly portioned, and made to be eaten with one hand. China plates and chi-chi salads are no good. You may be called on, at any minute, to swat a fly, wave away a dragonfly, or freak out about a wasp, and these activities are best undertaken without breakable crockery around.
However, the boy scout element should not be entirely discarded. I think there should be something to cut with a pocket knife. A stick of fuet, a wedge of cheese, a loaf of bread and a melon will always look good on the picnic rug.
It´s lovely to tie strings to the wine bottles and lower them into the water, but if you can bring one, a cooler makes life so much better. Likewise, a thermos of coffee or moroccan tea will elevate the whole experience into the realm of the highly civilized.
For this reason, I like to choose picnic spots that are easy to get to in a car. I don´t like to carry the baskets and rugs a long way. What I like is to set up camp, and then go exploring, knowing that when I come back from my walk with the dogs, the lazy ones who stayed behind will have set out the food, and will hand me a cold beer as I flop on the ground.
I think dogs are a must, and some sort of midly physical activity, like a kite or a freesbe. If there is no danger of some projectile crashing into the bellini jug then it´s no picnic, merely a dejeuner sur l´herbe, which is nice, but different.
The best picnics are often last minute, which can get in the way of my careful planning. But I have learnt this. It´s much easier if you have an official picnic basket or bag. That way, you can always have a corkscrew, a Swiss Army knive and paper cups and napkins that live in the bag. When the urge to picnic comes, you merely grab this, go to the market or the bakery or wherever, fill up with goodies, and leave, without wondering if you will, after all, have to open bottles using the fender of the car and a rock.
My favourite places for stocking up:
for bread- Viena Lacrem, c/Santa Brígida
for cheese and fruit- the Barceló market
for sandwiches- Entremigas c/ Eloy Gonzalo
for empanadillas- the pastelería next door to Entremigas
for ice- any petrol station
for drinks- any of the Chinese shops. don´t forget to grab some chewing gum and pipas