Sunday, June 20, 2010

All About Picnics

Although I enjoy picnicking at any time of year, I join the throngs of people who picnic more in July than other months. I suppose it is because July is the first full month of summer, school is out, vacations begin and the most popular single day for picnicking falls in this month, July 4th. No wonder someone thought to designate July as National Picnic Month.

During my various talks throughout Connecticut, people sometimes ask about the origin of picnicking and are surprised to learn that the custom dates back to France and shortly thereafter in England in the 17th century where feasts were moved outdoors to coincide with a planned activity, such as shooting parties, fox hunts, sporting event, or garden parties. Mostly formal affairs, I visualize servants carrying large hampers of delicacies to the designated destination. In the mid-1800's picnicking slowly began to take on an informality where each invited guest brought a food item to share.

Today, we call this a pot luck picnic. I planned such an event with a group of friends for a day later this month at Elizabeth Park in Hartford. Hopefully, we have timed it so the roses are in full bloom. ( I love the idea of an authentic pot luck picnic as opposed to our holiday pot luck where we sign up ahead of time with our food contribution. For our summer pot luck picnic no one knows what the others are bringing. So, we take the risk that we might end up with 8 cheese and cracker appetizers, 8 meat loafs, or 8 desserts (I should be so lucky!) What fun it is to see the delicious delicacies that end up on the picnic table, and to ultimately enjoy a versatile and well-balanced luncheon every time.

Are you ready for picnic season? Have you taken your picnic bag or basket out of storage and checked for any missing items? Is it time to jog to the discount store and restock? Just think picnic and you will be amazed at how easy it is to put together an informal pot luck picnic with friends and family in the great outdoors.

To get you in the mood to find the perfect place, check out the collection of photos I took at various picnic areas around the state. Go to and click on Photos on the left.

May all your picnics be perfect!