Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

INFO: Picnicking 101


When the weather is nice and warm, and everything is blooming and blossoming, what could be nicer than a picnic lunch?

A picnic is one of the nicest ways to enjoy food and the outdoors simultaneously. When I was growing up, we used to have a bigass picnic every year out at my grandfather's ranch. It was variously for Easter, Mother's Day, or just for spring. We invited everyone we knew and spent a day in the outdoors, eating, fishing, picking flowers, hiking, swimming and for some reason, having a pinata. I don't know where the pinata came from, but it was sort of a tradition. Even though someone got hurt every time.

When I was an angsty adolescent, I always wanted a boy to take me on a picnic. I think if anyone had taken me on a picnic, I would have melted instantly. But it was asking a little much of teenage boys to carry out my vision of a picnic, which involved a nice bottle of wine, a fresh baguette and good cheese, and fresh fruit and a blanket spread out under a tree somewhere pretty and secluded. If someone could have pulled that off for me, I think maybe I would have ... eaten a lot and had a very nice time. What? Should I have said something else? This is not THAT kind of blog! Frankly, I am surprised at you people. The only porn you will ever see here is food porn. I am a lady!

But, it is summer now, and although Los Angeles is not a bastion of nature, there are several nature preserves and parks to be found, if you look really hard. So, not that my husband ever reads this blog, but in case he does and wants to get me to .... eat a lot and have a nice time, perhaps he should take a look at some picnic tips from professional picnicker and Dean of Education of Florida Culinary Institute, Chef David Pantone:

1. Keep food at temperatures either below 40 degrees F or above 140 degrees F to slow bacteria growth.

2. Freeze bottled water and use it as ice packs to keep food cold.

3. They now have refrigerated portable coolers that you can plug into the power outlet in your car.

4. Prepare foods that are high in acid. They will keep best in warm weather. Citrus salads and sauces are key.

5. Mayo is fine to bring, but remember that storebought will keep longer than homemade. (If you are bringing homemade mayo, that's some impressive s***, Romeo.)

6. Use fresh herbs if you can. It's a picnic, dude, you want everything to taste nice and fresh and summer-y.

7. Use strong, contrasting flavors in your dishes--pair a spicy meat dish with a cool, sweet fruit dish.

8. Wear gloves if you're working hot peppers and ... this may seem elementary but I guess people still have trouble with this one: don't touch your eyes. DON'T TOUCH YOUR EYES. Unless you LIKE burning your eyeballs out with the heat of one thousand suns.

9. If you have guacamole or other avocado dishes, make sure to cover them by placing the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole or whatever it is. Don't leave any air. This will help you not have a disgusting brown vomity looking bowl of guacamole that will ruin your lovely picnic and any chances you have for "a nice time."

10. If you're planning on grilling, marinate your meat in ziploc bags for convenience. Then you can just pop it out onto the grill and throw away the bag, or take it home to wash and recycle if you're uber-cool and environmental like I wish I was.

So there it is. Listen, if you can, gentlemen/ladies looking for a nice time. Find yourself a pretty, secluded spot. Buy a nice bottle of wine (ask the store people if you don't know! They are very helpful!). Make up some sandwiches or something even more gourmet if you dare. Or, cheat and go to Joan's on Third or Clementine and have them make you a kick-ass picnic basket. Make sure and bring napkins, and utensils ... and, depending on exactly HOW secluded you are getting, you may want to throw in some toilet paper. Because that could be disastrous. Then, pick up your special lady or guy and take them out to your secluded spot and proceed to woo them with your wine and snacks and if it's done right, you will definitely get to eat a lot, and have a very nice time. Good luck!

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2 comments:

#11 If in Los Angeles--pack yourself in ice as well as your food items! Sheesh-o-mighty at this heat!!! aaarrrrgghhhhh

said by Acme Instant Food at 12:38 PM Delete

I KNOW. Bleh. Or rather: stay indoors and picnic on the floor in front of the air conditioner.

said by KT at 2:56 PM Delete

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