Food

Le French Picnic

Bonjour!

My love for French language and culture often inspires me to create a taste of France chez moi. I was lucky about to visit Paris in 2006, after I graduated from the University of Alabama, and still dream of visiting again one day (le sigh).

In the meantime, I find ways to recreate elements of la vie française, from breakfast in Paris to an easy pique-nique for dinner. This post shares how I put together a simple, elegant(ish) French picnic at home.

Le Pique-Nique

Dis-moi ce que tu manges et je te dirai qui tu es.” [You are what you eat.] – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, gastronome

Le principe plaisir (the pleasure principle) is a hallmark the French lifestyle, and food is one way to find joy in everyday living. My commitment to the pleasure principle and joyful living everyday includes not just taking care with the food I eat, but prioritizing fun, celebration, and simplicity.

And in the time of the pandemic, changing up the dinner routine is a fun, simple way to celebrate simple pleasures. Ever the bon vivant, Mon Cheri is right there with me. When it’s picnic night, he simply asks, “Red or white?”

Elements for the picnic:

  • Bread: Baguette, boule
  • Cheese: The ideal cheese plate has one each of soft, hard, and stinky cheeses. Try a soft-ripened cheese like Brie and a stinky bleu cheese like Roquefort.
  • Vegetables: Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, pickled green beans, olives, sundried tomatoes
  • Wine: A crisp, dry white like Sauvignon Blanc or a tart, dry red like Beaujolais suits the salty, tangy picnic food.

L’Atmosphère

Elements for creating the perfect atmosphère for your picnic:

  • Candles: Candles make everything cozy and romantic and fun, from the tiniest tea light to the tallest taper. I say light it up!
  • Place Settings: Just because it’s a pique-nique doesn’t mean you can’t whip out your china, cloth napkins, and flatware, if that’s how you like to get down. I use my grandmother’s vintage Lenox china from the 1950s, vintage silver napkin rings from France, and an assortment of serving pieces I’ve collected via gifting and inheritance. I love old things and I love using them every day to create an authentic aesthetic, the very essence of the pleasure principle.
  • Music: You can stream French-language artists for free on YouTube or through paid subscription services like Pandora. On YouTube, check out Belgian pop star Kate Ryan and French-Congolese singer Maître Gims. Pandora favorites include 60s French Pop Radio and French Café Radio.

What treats would you have at your own picnic?

Merci for reading and please subscribe and share!

À votre santé,

Katie

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