Rosemary Shrager

This month, our celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager revels in some of her favourite things about a summer picnic

Picnics are memories. We had many with my children, going to the park in the summer holidays, or listening to
some music in the evening at Kenwood in Highgate, where they put on great concerts. We always sat outside the
parameter, so that the children could run around, and used to go with friends, having a great time with plenty of wine and easy-eating food. Then, there was the formal picnic at Ascot, where we ate lobster and drank Champagne. It was very civilised, and we even took our own table and chairs!

You’ll always remember a hot summer’s day with family and friends, as picnics are often family-oriented. But they can also be a wonderfully intimate moment between two people, which I think is very precious. What’s great is that you can choose a lovely setting, such as a National Trust property, by a river, under a tree, or by a lake. It’s a great time to propose to someone who you love, and is very romantic. Picnics on the beach, however, I’ve never enjoyed – sand gets everywhere, and no matter how hard you try to keep it away, it just keeps on turning up!

So, where does the word ‘picnic’ come from? Historians agree that it stems from the French term ‘pique-nique’, which was used from the mid-1600s onwards, to describe gourmands who brought their own wine when dining out. Th e actual usage began as ‘pique un niche’, meaning  ‘pick a place’ – an isolated spot where family or friends could enjoy a meal together.

Up until Victorian times, a picnic was quite a grand event of the wealthy, although the working men and women would enjoy beer, meat pies and plum puddings; you’d find a picnic for a lot of people. Times have changed, but the ethos remains exactly the same today as a hugely fun thing to do.