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So we sat and ate / And talked old matters over ~ Tennyson
Miss Twinkleton has contributed herself and a veal pie to a picnic ~ Dickens

A picnic is a meal taken outdoors (al fresco) as part of an excursion, especially in scenic surroundings, such as a park, lakeside, or other place affording an interesting view, or else in conjunction with a public event such as preceding an open-air theatre performance, and usually in summer or spring.


  • The word picnic is suggestive of simplicity and ease. Thus it is fair to use the negative to demonstrate the opposite, as in the sentence: 'To write the Oxford Companion to Food has been no picnic.'


  • He [William Hickey's father] engaged one of the Nunnery's, as they are called, for which he paid fifty guineas. ... Provisions, consisting of cold fowls, ham, tongues, different meat pies, wines, and liquors of various sorts were sent in to the apartment the day before, and two servants were allowed to attend. ... It was past seven in the morning before we reached the Abbey. ... We found a hot and comfortable breakfast ready, which I enjoyed, and which proved highly refreshing to us all; after which some of our party determined to take a nap in their chairs. ... Their Majesties being crowned, the Archbishop of Canterbury mounted the pulpit to deliver the sermon, and as many thousands were out of the possibility of hearing a single syllable, they took that opportunity to eat their meal when the general clattering of knives, forks, plates, and glasses that ensued, produced a most ridiculous effect, and a universal burst of laughter followed.
  • There, on a slope of orchard, Francis laid
    A damask napkin wrought with horse and hound,
    Brought out a dusky loaf that smelt of home,
    And, half-cut-down, a pasty costly-made,
    Where quail and pigeon, lark and leveret lay,
    Like fossils of the rock, with golden yolks
    Imbedded and injellied; last, with these,
    A flask of cider from his father's vats,
    Prime, which I knew; and so we sat and ate
    And talked old matters over; who was dead,
    Who married, who was like to be, and how.
  • A joint of cold roast beef, a joint of cold boiled beef, 2 ribs of lamb, 2 shoulders of lamb, 4 roast fowls, 2 roast ducks, 1 ham, 1 tongue, 2 veal-and-ham pies, 2 pigeon pies, 6 medium-sized lobsters, 1 piece of collared calf's head, 18 lettuces, 6 baskets of salad, 6 cucumbers.
    Stewed fruit well sweetened, and put into glass bottles well corked; 3 or 4 dozen plain pastry biscuits to eat with the stewed fruit, 2 dozen fruit turnovers, 4 dozen cheesecakes, 2 cold cabinet puddings in moulds, 2 blancmanges in moulds, a few jam puffs, 1 large cold plum-pudding (this must be good), a few baskets of fresh fruit, 3 dozen plain biscuits, a piece of cheese, 6 lbs. of butter (this, of course, includes the butter for tea), 4 quartern loaves of household broad, 3 dozen rolls, 6 loaves of tin bread (for tea), 2 plain plum cakes, 2 pound cakes, 2 sponge cakes, a tin of mixed biscuits, 1/2 lb, of tea. Coffee is not suitable for a picnic, being difficult to make.
  • When I was going through the course of Garrison instruction, and accustomed to long days out surveying, I was partial to a galantine made of a small fowl, boned and rolled, with a block of tongue and some forcemeat introduced in the centre of it. A home-made brawn of tongue, a part of an ox head, and sheep’s trotters, well seasoned, and slightly spiced, was another spécialité.
    A nice piece of the brisket of beef salted and spiced, boiled, placed under a weight, and then trimmed into a neat shape (the trimmings come in for sandwiches, potted-meat, or “bubble and squeak”) is a very handy thing for the tiffin basket; and a much respected patron of mine recommends for travelling, a really good cold plum pudding in which a glass of brandy has been included.
  • The traveller’s luncheon basket, and that of the sportsman are analogous. A friend of mine with whom I used to walk the paddy fields, adopted the plan of taking out a digester pot, previously filled with stewed steak and oysters, or some equally toothsome stew. This he trusted to his syce, who lit a fire somewhere or other, in the marvellous way the natives of this country do, and, as sure as there are fish in the sea, had the contents of the pot steaming hot, at the exact spot, and at the very moment we required it.
  • He looped the painter through a ring in his landing-stage, climbed up into his hole above, and after a short interval reappeared staggering under a fat, wicker luncheon-basket.
    'Shove that under your feet,' he observed to the Mole, as he passed it down into the boat. Then he untied the painter and took the sculls again.
    'What's inside it?' asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity.
    'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'cold­tongue­cold­ham­cold­beef­pickled­gherkins­salad­french­rolls­cress­sandwiches­potted­meat­ginger­beer­lemonade­soda­water——'
  • The Rat brought the boat alongside the bank, made her fast, helped the still awkward Mole safely ashore, and swung out the luncheon-basket. The Mole begged as a favour to be allowed to unpack it all by himself; and the Rat was very pleased to indulge him, and to sprawl at full length on the grass and rest, while his excited friend shook out the table-cloth and spread it, took out all the mysterious packets one by one and arranged their contents in due order, still gasping, 'O my! O my!' at each fresh revelation. When all was ready, the Rat said, 'Now, pitch in, old fellow!' and the Mole was indeed very glad to obey, for he had started his spring-cleaning at a very early hour that morning, as people will do, and had not paused for bite or sup; and he had been through a very great deal since that distant time which now seemed so many days ago.
  • There he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger’s origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes.
  • If you go down in the woods today,
    You're sure of a big surprise.
    If you go down in the woods today,
    You'd better go in disguise.
    For every bear that ever there was
    Will gather there together because
    Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.
  • Bright shone the morning, and as I waited (they had promised to call for me in their motor) I made for myself an enchanting picture of the day before me, our drive to that forest beyond the dove-blue hills, the ideal beings I should meet there, feasting with them exquisitely in the shade of immemorial trees.
    And when, in the rainy twilight, I was deposited, soaked, and half-dead with fatigue, out of that open motor, was there nothing inside me but chill and disillusion? If I had dreamed a dream incompatible with the climate and social conditions of these Islands, had I not, out of that very dream and disenchantment, created, like the Platonic Lover, a Platonic and imperishable vision—the ideal Picnic, the Picnic as it might be—the wonderful windless weather, the Watteauish landscape, where a group of mortals talk and feast as they talked and feasted in the Golden Age?
    • Logal Pearsall Smith, All Trivia (Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1945), pp. 141–142. The Ideal
  • For the walker's picnic perhaps the perfect meal has been described by Sir Osbert Sitwell: 'the fruits of the month, cheese with the goaty taste of mountains upon it, and if possible bilberries, apples, raw celery, a meal unsophisticated and pastoral ...'
    • Quoted in: Elizabeth David, Summer Cooking (1955)


Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, ... ~ Omar Khayyam
  • Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
    A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou
      Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
    And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
  • Here with a little Bread beneath the Bough,
    A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou
      Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
    Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
  • A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
    A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
      Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
    Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
  • A custom termed “Shemm en-Neseem” (or the Smelling of the Zephyr) is observed on the first day of the Khamáseen. Early in the morning of this day, many persons, especially women, break an onion, and smell it; and in the course of the forenoon, many of the citizens of Cairo ride or walk a little way into the country, or go in boats, generally northwards, to take the air, or, as they term it, smell the air, which, on that day, they believe to have a wonderfully beneficial effect. The greater number dine in the country, or on the river. This year (1834), they were treated with a violent hot wind, accompanied by clouds of dust, instead of the neseem: but considerable numbers, notwithstanding, went out to “smell” it.
  • Yesterday we spent the whole day picnicking ... a lorry with lunch and bottles followed our car ... one thing I particularly like about these outdoor luncheons is the cold fried fish. Besides the European food there are always some spicy Indian dishes ... cold curry of boars' head (without the eyes) or peppery leaves of spinach fried in batter ... of course a hamper of whisky, beer, gimlets, cider, and water is always taken along.
    • Charles Baskerville, describing an Indian picnic given by the Maharajah of Jaipur, in 1937
    • Quoted in: Elizabeth David, Summer Cooking (1955)

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