I sometimes like the *idea* of a picnic better than the actual event. I imagine an Ina-style affair with soft blankets and delicious food, and I often end up with the stained beach towel we keep in the back of the car for emergencies, and food that tastes like the sunscreen and bug spray that sat next to it in the cooler. Plus, there’s the food safety aspect of transporting food in warm weather, and figuring out how to serve it.
In order to make my fantasy picnic become more of a reality, I took a page from the people who actually live in hot climates and have done so for centuries. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food travels fairly well, and holds up better in hot temperatures than, say, a mayonnaise-laden potato salad. When we met up with some friends at the park last month, I brought Ina’s Marinated Feta and Red Pepper Hummus (both from Make it Ahead), along with her quinoa tabbouleh, for the adults. The kids chose their standard peanut butter sandwiches with fruit, but they were more interested in playing at the park and blowing bubbles anyway.
Both dishes traveled well, and the surprise hit was the marinated feta. I used a cow’s milk feta instead of a goat’s milk or sheep’s milk version, and it was really mild and not as musty as some feta can be. I’m not a fan of fennel seed, so I substituted celery seed along with the other herbs, and it turned out really well.
What’s your favorite picnic food? Do you have any picnic disaster stories? Success stories?