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Today, a picnic means an enjoyable outing at which a tasty meal is eaten, preferably in a serene setting.  Did you know that this relaxing and carefree act has its roots back in the medieval times in England?

In Europe during the 14th century, the earliest picnics were elaborate traditions of outdoor medieval hunting feasts enjoyed by the wealthy.  These feasts, held before the hunt began were of special importance and the foods that could be found at these feasts would be hams, a variety of baked meats, and pastries. The medieval hunting feasts and Renaissance era outdoor country banquets are said to be the foundation of the picnics we enjoy today.

  • According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a picnic originally means “a fashionable entertainment in which each person present contributed a share of the provisions; now, a pleasure party including an excursion to some spot in the country where all partake of a repast out of doors: the participants may bring with them individually the viands and means of entertainment, or the whole may be provided by someone who “gives the picnic”.
  • “Picnic” began as a French word…’piquenique’ -According to Wikipedia, “the first usage of the word picnic was traced to a 16th century French text, describing a group of people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine.
  • A theory has it that the word picnic is based on the verb piquer which means ‘pick’ or ‘peck’ with the rhyming nique perhaps meaning trifle.”  The first documented appearance of picnic outside of the French language occurred in 1748, but it was 1800 before anyone can prove it popped up in the English language, and that was in England.
  • By the 1860s the meaning of picnic changed from ‘everyone bringing some food’ to ‘everyone eating out of doors’ with a casual atmosphere, no strict menu, and jovial company.  By the mid- 19th century, Americans had also become avid picnickers.
  • Today, there are a vast array of foods, cultural practices, and dishes available to garnish your picnic outing – your environment may also influence the recipes you decide to prepare and bring along on your picnic.  Whether it is a thermos of clam chowder, a variety of tasty cheeses and meats, and an ample supply of BBQ, exotic fruits, pate, and a favorite wine…

Gourmet delicacies no matter your location will provide you with an alternative to the traditional selection of sandwiches and salads.  As long as you are enjoying scrumptious foods, affable company, in a relaxing and serene location…you are practicing the art of picnicking – enjoy!

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