Friday Food And Drink Post: Keep Calm and Picnic On

 

“Hold hard a minute, then!” said the Rat. 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; “coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrolls cresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—-“

“O stop, stop,” cried the Mole in ecstasies: “This is too much!”

“Do you really think so?” inquired the Rat seriously. “It’s only what I always take on these little excursions; and the other animals are always telling me that I’m a mean beast and cut it VERY fine!”

–Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

When I was a little girl, the above description spoke of home to me. Of the English woods, the English countryside, the English way of life, and above all, of summer picnics with Granny and Grandpa.

More specifically, of picnics on our excursions from Birmingham (Warwickshire) to Mousehole (say it correctly, please, Muzzle) in Cornwall (think, Poldark country). About 250 miles, but we started before dawn, and we arrived, in the old 1947 Rover, sometime after supper. Along the way, we stopped numerous times by the side of the road (little country roads, this was pre-Motorway) for sandwiches, pressed meats, hard-boiled eggs, cake, pickled walnuts, and other spoils from a picnic basket the equal of, or better, than anything Ratty ever managed to produce. Tablecloths, napkins, china plates and cups, silverware. Bottomless Thermoses of tea. Not a bit of paper or plastic in sight. It was elegant. The young me absolutely loved it. It was such fun. Well, except for those occasional quick trips into the bushes, in the course of which some part of me always seemed to come into close contact with a nettle patch. Ouch.

I was thinking about our family picnics here recently, probably just reaching for a comforting family memory, as knitting no longer serves that purpose for me, now that I’ve been made to understand that I’m too white, too unwoke, too privileged, and too oblivious of the sufferings of all those who are different from me (particularly the “BIPOC”), to allow myself to wallow in it any more. After my last few go-rounds on Ravelry (I’ve had my fingers firmly slapped and I’m honored to be in “Account Restriction,”) I was reminded of that post I wrote several months ago when I got the servile letter from the designer of the “Mukluks” boots pattern, announcing that she was sorry she’d caused offense to the indigenous community. A portion of her letter went as follows:

We’ve changed this pattern’s name Mukluks to Dogwood Slippers.

We are sorry for the hurt our pattern has caused. We are not part of the indigenous peoples from whom the word Mukluks originates nor are we part of the First Nations whose knitting traditions inspired the design.

A portion of the letter I wrote in response went like this:

Someone should remind “First Nations” that their “knitting tradition” was appropriated from the white settlers, and was given to them in the nineteenth century by the Sisters of St. Ann Missionaries when the Europeans introduced wool sheep into their lives.

I don’t see anyone complaining about that bit of historical revisionism and cultural appropriation

And it is equally absurd to claim that somehow, using the word “mukluks” in your pattern, or incorporating a design that looks like some sort of butterfly, or perhaps a snowflake, or even a flower, in the leg of your slipper is any sort of insult or offensive gesture or thought towards any culture or race.

I wonder how much of the campaign of abuse directed against you by those members of “First Nations” triggered by your harmless, and very nice knitting pattern, was conducted through email? Since, as far as I’m aware, there is no “First Nations email tradition,” and no member of “First Nations” invented email, I choose to be offended that they have culturally appropriated my own culture’s “email tradition,” and I suggest they return to a form of communication that is more organically associated with their own history: smoke signals.

But, I digress. Ommmmm. Picnic. Let’s look at the origin of the word, starting with the definition from Merriam Webster (this should be a pretty innocuous little exercise):

Picnic, (n): an excursion or outing with food usually provided by members of the group and eaten in the open, also: the food provided for a picnic

That’s nice. Sounds about right. Uh oh. What have we here? A story about the nasty origins of the word “picnic” which was widely believed, for quite some time, to have had horrible, racist, overtones, tying into, and inextricably linked with, an appalling chapter in history. Is yet another of my few remaining fond family recollections about to be memory-holed as insensitive and triggering? Am I not going to be allowed to say “picnic” anymore? Thankfully not. Surprisingly, Snopes (language warning) has come to the rescue debunking this particular story, and directing the reader to the real origins of the word, the seventeenth-century French word, piquenique, used to describe restaurant meals where the patrons came with their own wine–an early version of BYOB. Gradually, it came to mean a meal, sometimes with wine, eaten outdoors, to which each guest brought something to eat, consumed in a pot luck style. The word itself, and its association with outdoor eating, came to England in about 1750.

I only wish I could find the follow up to the first article again, about how the fellow in Florida making a fuss wanted to change the description of the event from “picnic” to “outing,” but that idea had to be nixed because the homosexuals who would be participating in the event found the suggested new name even more threatening than the first one.

Glory be. Sometimes it really does seem like a stupid time to be alive. Not messing.

If you belong to a family of picnickers (not everyone does, I understand), please share some of your experiences. It’s all good. You’re safe here.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    She: “coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—-“

    As a general rule, it is best to consume the meat before it becomes spotted.

    • #1
  2. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Percival (View Comment):

    She: “coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—-“

    As a general rule, it is best to consume the meat before it becomes spotted.

    So true!

    • #2
  3. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Wonderful! Thank you again for reminding us of that brilliant Mukluk post.

     

    • #3
  4. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Mrs. She, you are a pistol. I’m glad you’re on our side.

    By the way, why are you English people so weird with your pronunciations? “Mousehole” should be pronounced “mouse hole.” Yet you British people persist in pronouncing it “Muzzle.”

    You call the Thames “Tims,” or something like that. What’s with that? It should be pronounced “Thames,” as in “Frames.”

    Just stop it, you people of the British persuasion. It’s just all too precious and old-timey.

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):

    She: “coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—-“

    As a general rule, it is best to consume the meat before it becomes spotted.

    You have parsed it incorrectly, Potted Percy.

    “cold tongue, cold ham, cold beef, pickled gherkins, salad, french rolls, cress sandwiches, potted meat, ginger beer, lemonade, soda water—-“

    • #5
  6. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Mrs. She, you are a pistol. I’m glad you’re on our side.

    By the way, why are you English people so weird with your pronunciations? “Mousehole” should be pronounced “mouse hole.” Yet you British people persist in pronouncing it “Muzzle.”

    You call the Thames “Tims,” or something like that. What’s with that? It should be pronounced “Thames,” as in “Frames.”

    Just stop it, you people of the British persuasion. It’s just all too precious and old-timey.

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Mrs. She, you are a pistol. I’m glad you’re on our side.

    You may be alone in that thought, but thanks . . .

    By the way, why are you English people so weird with your pronunciations? “Mousehole” should be pronounced “mouse hole.” Yet you British people persist in pronouncing it “Muzzle.”

    You call the Thames “Tims,” or something like that. What’s with that? It should be pronounced “Thames,” as in “Frames.”

    Just stop it, you people of the British persuasion. It’s just all too precious and old-timey.

    For you, @kentforrester, I know you’re a fan:

    • #6
  7. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Speaking of potato/potahto, Granny did succumb at some point to the fascination of Smith’s Salt ‘n Shake potato crisps (chips, for those of you still requiring consecutive translation), and include little bags of them in the picnic basket. They were an unsalted potato chip, in a small, single serving-size bag, included with which was a twist of blue paper with salt inside. The idea was that you put only as much salt as you needed/wanted on the chips, then held the top of the bag together and shook it around to distribute the salt. Naturally, it always made a mess, and I think Granny including it in the picnic meal was more about her determination to keep the mess out of the house than about anything else. 

     

    • #7
  8. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    First of all, I adored Wind in the Willows when I was a child. I was given the edition with Arthur Rackham illustrations.

    Our picnics were always packed in a Scotch cooler. They always included my mother’s potato salad (still the best in the land), deviled eggs, homemade cole slaw, various sandwiches, cornichons, iced tea, and Coke (after all we were in Atlanta.) And for dessert, chocolate Bundt cake. I always make the potato salad and cole slaw for any of our 4th of July, Memorial Day, etc. casual holiday meals.

    • #8
  9. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    She (View Comment):

    For you, @kentforrester, I know you’re a fan:

    Mrs. She, brilliant rejoinder. You knew I would never go against Ella and Satchmo. Thus, I’m now entirely convinced that I have been provincial in my criticism of precious British pronunciations.

     I guess you can continue pronouncing Gloucester as GLOWSTER, even though on this side of the pond we pronounce our Gloucester as GLOSSTAH.

    Carry on. 

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    She: “coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—-“

    As a general rule, it is best to consume the meat before it becomes spotted.

    You have parsed it incorrectly, Potted Percy.

    “cold tongue, cold ham, cold beef, pickled gherkins, salad, french rolls, cress sandwiches, potted meat, ginger beer, lemonade, soda water—-“

    It sez “spottedmeat,” dammit.

    I was just trying to keep people from making a potentially fatal mistake.

    • #10
  11. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    She: “coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—-“

    As a general rule, it is best to consume the meat before it becomes spotted.

    You have parsed it incorrectly, Potted Percy.

    “cold tongue, cold ham, cold beef, pickled gherkins, salad, french rolls, cress sandwiches, potted meat, ginger beer, lemonade, soda water—-“

    It sez “spottedmeat,” dammit.

    I was just trying to keep people from making a potentially fatal mistake.

    Noted. Thanks for your concern. One can’t be too careful.

    • #11
  12. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    I guess you can continue pronouncing Gloucester as GLOWSTER

    Cholmondeley = CHUMLEY

    • #12
  13. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    EB (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    I guess you can continue pronouncing Gloucester as GLOWSTER

    Cholmondeley = CHUMLEY

    The cheater guide to UK place names: nothing exists between the first and last syllable. 

    • #13
  14. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

    • #14
  15. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

    I prefer messing about in more comfortable environs. 

    • #15
  16. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    The cheater guide to UK place names: nothing exists between the first and last syllable.

    Like in Mybug? I mean Meierburg.

    • #16
  17. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    EB (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    I guess you can continue pronouncing Gloucester as GLOWSTER

    Cholmondeley = CHUMLEY

    Now that’s just crazy!

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    I guess you can continue pronouncing Gloucester as GLOWSTER

    Cholmondeley = CHUMLEY

    Now that’s just crazy!

    You try saying the same place names the same way for 900 years.

    • #18
  19. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    iWe (View Comment):

    Wonderful! Thank you again for reminding us of that brilliant Mukluk post.

    Thanks! It was one of my better efforts, I think. I do wonder, having seen the Ravilantes  in action (that’s my name for Ravelry’s vigilante squads), whether the designer who came up with those very nice slippers and that very nice pattern was simply the victim of one of their patrols to root out wrongthink in their midst.

    Lord knows, maybe she’s a Trump supporter. That’d do it.

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    The cheater guide to UK place names: nothing exists between the first and last syllable. 

    Featherstonehaugh=Fanshawe.

    On the way between B’ham and Mousehole, I remember driving around Dartmoor, and Bodmin (site of a famous jail and lunatic asylum), Chipping Sodbury, and Chew Magna. Unfortunately, I don’t think we ever made it to Wooky Hole.

    • #19
  20. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Percival (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    I guess you can continue pronouncing Gloucester as GLOWSTER

    Cholmondeley = CHUMLEY

    Now that’s just crazy!

    You try saying the same place names the same way for 900 years.

    You do all know that “Warwick” is pronounced “Warrick,” right? And that “Magdalen” (of the college name) is pronounced “Maudlin?” And that “Leominster” is “Lemster?”

    The Welsh do not play fair at all. Thus, “Llandudno” is pronounced “Clandudno,” or perhaps more properly, something like “Hchlandudno.” Or “Cefn Cribwy,” which is pronounced something like “Kevin Cribor.” Or the site of my Dad’s childhood holidays, “Pwllheli,” something like “Pwchleli.”

    Then there’s “Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch” (spoken here).

     

    • #20
  21. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    I do miss the glass Thermos vacuum bottles. The plastic variety, and other forms of “keeps it hot” containers just aren’t nearly as much fun, or as fragile and dangerous.

    Reminds me of one of my granddaughter’s favorite jokes, when she was a bit younger (about six, I think). I think the “blond” aspect of it went over her head but she got the punchline just fine.

    A blond and her friend were having lunch in a park. The friend had a thermos, and the blond had never seen one before. So the blond said, “what’s that for?” 

    The friend said, “it’s a thermos. It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold.”

    Next day, the blond brought her own thermos, which she’d bought the night before, to lunch with her. “I’m really excited about this,” she said.

    “What do you have inside it?” asked her friend.

    “A cup of coffee and a popsicle,” replied the blond.

    • #21
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):
    You try saying the same place names the same way for 900 years.

    Or the surnames. Mine has been through many spellings.

    • #22
  23. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    She (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    I guess you can continue pronouncing Gloucester as GLOWSTER

    Cholmondeley = CHUMLEY

    Now that’s just crazy!

    You try saying the same place names the same way for 900 years.

    You do all know that “Warwick” is pronounced “Warrick,” right? And that “Magdalen” (of the college name) is pronounced “Maudlin?” And that “Leominster” is “Lemster?”

    The Welsh do not play fair at all. Thus, “Llandudno” is pronounced “Clandudno,” or perhaps more properly, something like “Hchlandudno.” Or “Cefn Cribwy,” which is pronounced something like “Kevin Cribor.” Or the site of my Dad’s childhood holidays, “Pwllheli,” something like “Pwchleli.”

    Then there’s “Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch” (spoken here).

     

    Regardless of what they do in New Jersey, in Ohio, “Newark” is pronounced “nerk.”

    • #23
  24. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    Our most common “picnic” was done during the yearly summer trips from SoCal to Wyoming. I made egg salad sandwiches in pocket bread (less messy to eat!) and brought apples which I’d cut up and pass the slices around. We’d leave around 6:00 P.M. so that we’d arrive in Las Vegas at midnight or later. Then, after a brief stop, we’d keep driving until we’d finally get away from the deserts by dawn. This also allowed the children to sleep for most of the trip. The first goal was Salt Lake City, where we could stay at my sister’s and get a bath and a break. Then, we’d finish the final four hours to Wyoming where both grandmas lived, and it was never 107 degrees.

    But, we read The Wind in the Willows several times, and every (now) grown-up kid in the family knows the phrase “messing about in boats” and they’ve passed it on to the grandchildren!

     

    • #24
  25. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    So what’s the correct pronunciation of Worcestershire?

    • #25
  26. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    When we used to take the kids to Hilton Head, we’d leave in the evenings so that they’d sleep most of the way.

    • #26
  27. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    So what’s the correct pronunciation of Worcestershire?

    Woo-stah-shah.

    • #27
  28. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    So what’s the correct pronunciation of Worcestershire?

    Woo-stah-shah.

    Not “woo” as in “hoot.” More like “woo” as in “wookiee.”

    • #28
  29. Al French, sad sack Moderator
    Al French, sad sack
    @AlFrench

    Our family went on many picnics when I was a child. Not as elaborate as yours. My mother always made sandwiches, and there were always carrot sticks, fruit, and cookies. Sometimes potato salad.

    To continue the tradition, last week I took my granddaughters, five and seven, on a picnic. First a three mile hike to view the waterfalls, then a traditional lunch, carried in the basket we used as a child. Next week we will do it again.

    • #29
  30. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):

    Our family went on many picnics when I was a child. Not as elaborate as yours. My mother always made sandwiches, and there were always carrot sticks, fruit, and cookies. Sometimes potato salad.

    To continue the tradition, last week I took my granddaughters, five and seven, on a picnic. First a three mile hike to view the waterfalls, then a traditional lunch, carried in the basket we used as a child. Next week we will do it again.

    That sounds like fun! I’m glad you’re carrying on a family tradition. 

    • #30

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