As Wildfires cause havoc across the UK we are being urged to ditch barbecues in favour of the more traditional picnic.
What better time to make the change than during National Picnic Month in July.
There’s something special about enjoying a delicious spread in the great outdoors – or even just in our own garden. And let’s be honest – who doesn’t love a good picnic?
Seen by many as a quintessentially British experience, an old fashioned picnic – complete with blanket on the ground and wicker basket – can bring back fond childhood memories.
Here are seven things you might not know about picnics –
1 – No lashings of ginger beer
Those well-known picnickers The Famous Five enjoyed mouthwatering spreads – but the phrase ‘lashings of ginger beer’ never actually appeared in any of the books. It is actually a line from the parody film Five Go Mad in Dorset, and was never used by Enid Blyton. She did, however, write about ‘lashings’ of hard-boiled eggs and ‘lashings’ of treacle.
2 – Where does the word picnic come from?
There is uncertainty about the origins of the word picnic. Some believe it comes from the French verb piquer, which means ‘pick’ or ‘peck’, and the noun ‘nique’, a small amount. Others think it came from the name of a greedy character, Pique-Nique, in a 17th century French play.
3 – The great indoors
The picnic, or ‘pique-nique’, started out in France as a fashionable dinner to which everyone contributed a share. In stark contrast to today the events were held indoors.
4 – The effect of revolution
The French Revolution is thought to have played a key role in bringing the picnic to Britain. Many aristocrats fled to London – and some of them are believed to have been among the first members of the Pic Nic Society launched in the city in 1801. When gatherings were held each member had to bring along a dish and six bottles of wine.
5 – Is the Scotch egg from Scotland?
That picnic favourite, the Scotch egg, was invented by the upper crust London department store Fortnum and Mason. Known originally as the ‘Scotched egg’ it was intended as sustenance for wealthy people travelling from London to their country homes.
6 – A picnic led to the fall of the Iron Curtain
The ‘Pan-European picnic’, held on August 19 in 1989 paved the way for the reunification of West and East Germany. Thousands of Hungarians and Austrians gathered at the border between their two countries for a demonstration of friendship and peace. They were joined by hundreds of East Germans who fled to the West – setting off a chain of events which culminated in the destruction of the Berlin wall on November 9, 1989,
7 – Christmas pudding was once on the menu for outdoor dining
One of Britain’s most famous cookery book writers, the Victorian Mrs Beeton, recommended Christmas ( or plum) pudding for picnics. In the extensive bill of fare she suggested for 40 people, she included roast beef, roast fowls, pigeon pies, lobsters, 6lbs of butter, 6 loaves of tin bread, 18 lettuces and a large plum pudding.
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