A few pack­ets of chips and soggy sand­wiches served on pa­per plates no longer cut it. Fol­low my check­list

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Delicious On Sunday -

for host­ing an out­door feast to go down in his­tory

THE name might be French and the Bri­tish might think they own it, but it’s the Aussies who do pic­nics with piz­zazz.

We have a long his­tory of out­door feast­ing. The first royal visit to Aus­tralia in 1865 was cel­e­brated with grand public pic­nics. The Melbourne pic­nic ended in dis­as­ter, though, when the crowd ri­oted af­ter the royal failed to show.

The Syd­ney pic­nic was worse. The Duke of Edinburgh was trag­i­cally shot by an Ir­ish repub­li­can.

To avoid your own dis­as­ter, here are my 25 es­sen­tial pic­nic ques­tions to ask your­self before grab­bing that Esky and head­ing off to the park.


1 Where’s the per­fect site for your pic­nic? 2 Who will make the best mix of guests? Does every­one have a buddy? 3 How close is the park­ing? This will im­pact on how much stuff you can take. 4 Can you book the lo­cal public bar­be­cue, or do you need to claim it early? 5 What will guests sit on? A sturdy chair for Great Aunt Flossie?


6 Plan the menu around what won’t spoil in the heat or in tran­sit. 7 What can you del­e­gate for oth­ers to bring to lessen the load on you? 8 Keep salad and dress­ing sep­a­rate un­less it’s a “hard” salad like a slaw or pota­toes. With these, keep the crunchy top­pings to fin­ish them off like crisped ba­con or crispy shal­lots in zip-lock bags. 9 I put ev­ery­thing into jars and zip-lock bags to keep things fresh, sep­a­rate and easy to find but min­imise assem­bly. 10 What needs to be kept cold? I freeze wa­ter bot­tles to use to keep food cold, and it means you’ve got plenty of cold wa­ter on hand dur­ing the day as they melt. 11 Avoid the pic­nic loaf! Dread­ful sludgy aber­ra­tion that it is. 12 Take fresh herbs and le­mon wedges to gar­nish food and drinks. 13 Dips, vegie sticks and crack­ers are great to keep the kids fed while you are set­ting up or cook­ing. 14 Bake some­thing but make sure it will travel well, like a slice rather than a del­i­cate sponge. 15 Keep the food real – filled rolls, artisan sausages, tan­doori chicken skew­ers, cre­ative sal­ads. So, no more than one packet of chips, please!


16 Don’t just keep it real with the food. Let that stretch to enamel or melamine plates rather than card­board. 17 You will al­ways be thank­ful if you take a sharp knife and a chop­ping board. 18 If you are bar­be­cu­ing, don’t for­get the foil, tongs, bak­ing pa­per, a cou­ple of foil bak­ing trays and matches (just in case).


19 Have you packed the bot­tle opener, stubby hold­ers and enough glasses? Will the glasses stand up on the grass as you lean across for an­other sausage roll? 20 You can never have enough ice, so take ice cubes in a ther­mos or in zip-lock bags chill­ing your drinks and food. 21 Serve a mixed drink. Make a cock­tail base like san­gria, Pimms-soaked fruit or fruit punch and fin­ish at the pic­nic with ice, a slice and a spritz of soda.


22 What will you do when not eat­ing? Kick the footie? Play pic­nic cricket? 23 Have you packed in­sect re­pel­lent, sun­screen, bin lin­ers for rub­bish, pa­per tow­els or wet wipes and hand sani­tiser? 24 Have you packed your sense of hu­mour? This may need to be de­ployed in the face of bad weather. 25 Have you packed an eye to keep on the chil­dren? Chil­dren run­ning in a pack can get into so much trou­ble.

And fi­nally, think hard about whether you need to in­vite that vis­it­ing royal to your pic­nic. It never seems to end well.

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