It’s that time of year again – you know, the one with the sun, the sweat and the sudden compulsion to eat outside? I for one love it. I’m a fan of barbecues. I’m a fan of garden parties. But most of all, I’m a fan of picnics.
However, because I’m such a fan of picnics, I’m sick of the always having the same old food. I’m done with egg sandwiches and packets of Monster Munch. I’m done with quiche. I’m done with chicken drumsticks. But this has left me sorely lacking in food, so I decided to do what I always do when I can’t deal with real life issues – I looked to my bookshelves.
Fiction is filled with some amazing food scenes – from tea with the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, to midnight feasts with The Twins of St Clare’s, to toasted lumps of cheese with Heidi and her grandfather… it all sounds simply divine – so divine, that I thought I’d round up a list of the best picnic ideas for bookworms:
It isn’t good manners to tell your company what you are going to give them to eat, so I won’t tell you what she said we could have to drink. Only it begins with an R and a C and it’s bright red colour. I love bright red drinks don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other colour.
I think the scene in which Anne of Green Gables has Diana round for tea and accidentally gets her shit-faced when she mixes up raspberry cordial and currant wine was my favourite as a kid. Unfortunately I’ve found drunk people significantly less amusing since they started throwing up on me.
Hagrid made them tea and offered them stoat sandwiches, which they refused.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (actually, all Harry Potter books) are filled with amazing sounding food, so you may wonder why I settled on stoat sandwiches. Well, some may consider it barbaric to eat a cute, furry little rodent, but I read somewhere that stoats sometimes crawl through open windows and eat babies, so I feel less bad about it. And apparently they taste like steak. Everyone loves steak.
We could play on her lawn, eat her scuppernongs if we didn’t jump on the arbor, so carefully were we to preserve the delicate balance of our relationship, but Jem and Dill drove me closer to her with their behaviour.
FOR EVERYONE THAT IS WONDERING scuppernongs (mentioned in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee) are a sort of “supergrape” native to the south of the United States, that can survive the scorching temperatures that would shrivel most other grapes. They taste kind of like plums, apparently.
Hard boiled eggs
The high tea that awaited them was truly magnificent. A huge ham gleaming as pink as Timmy’s tongue; a salad fit for a king. In fact, as Dick said, fit for several kings, it was so enormous. It had in it everything that anyone could possibly want. “Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, radishes, mustard and cress, carrot grated up – that is carrot, isn’t it, Mrs. Penruthlan?” said Dick. “And lashings of hard-boiled eggs.” There was an enormous tureen of new potatoes, all gleaming with melted butter, scattered with parsley. There was a big bottle of home-made salad cream. “Look at that cream cheese, too,” marveled Dick, quite overcome. “And that fruit cake. And are those drop-scones, or what? Are we supposed to have something of everything, Mrs Penruthlan?
There would be nothing more marvellous than living on the diet of The Famous Five. Everyday lunches consisted of ginger beer and homemade lemonade, tomato sandwiches, slabs of butter and hot scones… and no meal was ever (EVER) complete without a trusty hard boiled egg.
Pickles and icy vodka
“Noblesse oblige,” said the cat and poured Margarita some clear liquid into a conical glass.
“Is this vodka?” asked Margarita weakly.
The cat jumped resentfully in his chair.
“Forgive me, my lady,” he croaked, “how can I offer vodka to a lady! It’s pure alcohol!”
Behemoth, the enormous demonic black cat from Master and Margarita, is known for his cravings for pickles, chess and vodka (as well as his obnoxious sarcasm). There’s a pretty funny scene in which he dances around in front of the severely hungover Stepan drinking vodka, and chasing it with a pickled mushroom.
Quail in rose petal sauce
But it was no use, something strange had happened to her. She turned to Tita for help, but Tita wasn’t there, even though her body was sitting up quite properly in her chair; there wasn’t the slightest sign of life in her eyes. It was as if a strange alchemical process had dissolved her entire being in the rose petal sauce, in the tender flesh of the quails, in the wine, in every one of the meal’s aromas.
In Like Water for Chocolate, Tita has a way of magically adding a bit of herself to her dishes, and when she cooks up a batch of quail in rose petal sauce with her loved one in mind, it has an interesting effect on her sisters, making one violently horny and one violently sick (well, she is about to marry Tita’s man, so she pretty much deserves it.)
Eat little at a time, and only at need. For these things are given to serve you when all else fails. The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings, as we have brought them. One will keep a traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall men of Minas Tirith.
This is the magical elven bread given to the travellers in the The Fellowship of the Ring, and speaking as a person with an eternal empty pit in their stomach, I would not turn down a bit of something this filling.
Mr Willy Wonka can make marshmallows that taste of violets, and rich caramels that change colour every ten seconds as you suck them, and little feathery sweets that melt away deliciously the moment you put them between your lips. He can make a chewing gum that never loses its taste, and sugar balloons that you can blow up to enormous sizes before you pop them with a pin and gobble them up.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is filled with the most heavenly sounding sweets and candies – and what is a picnic without a sugar hit to last you the walk home?
Honey and condensed milk
When Rabbit said, “Honey or condensed milk with your bread?” he was so excited that he said, “Both,” and then, so as not to seem greedy, he added, “But don’t bother about the bread, please.”
You’re so right, Pooh. We wouldn’t want to seem greedy.
So this is my list of perfect picnic ideas for bookworms, but I’d love to hear about your favourite literary foods – leave us a comment below!
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