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The Picnic Gourmet

By MaryAnn Miano

A picnic is much more than a meal away from home or a meal tossed together and carted to a lovely spot under a shady tree. The experience of picnicking, which depends as much on the weather and the activities that surround the meal as on the meal itself, is described in careful detail by the authors of the book The Picnic Gourmet by Joan Hemingway (yes, she is Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter) and Connie Maricich. The book, available for checkout from the Catherine Henning Cookbook Collection at the Colts Neck Library, has more than 300 delectable dishes for every kind of picnic meal, from simple backpacking hikes to elegant basket lunches.

The authors tell you all you need to know to have a wonderful picnic. They include how to choose the right wine, how to use foods safely, how to lay out the picnic beautifully, how to pack dips so they don’t leak or take up much space, and how to pack a layer cake so it doesn’t get crushed.

The first section of the book consists of menus and complete recipe instructions for a French picnic, an all-American picnic, an Italian picnic, a boating-themed picnic, special occasion picnics for birthdays and holidays, winter skiing picnics (yes, there is such a thing!), summer, spring, and fall picnics. Mouthwatering recipes follow, along with notes on packing those dishes for everything from the simplest health food to the most gourmet delight.

Besides great ideas for gourmet picnics, the book contains many simple recipes and even suggests some good choices to pick from at your local delicatessen.  In the second section of the book, you will find a reference section for making up your own picnic menus. This section is further divided into categories of soup, main dishes, salads, bread, side dishes and condiments, and desserts. A picnic is a sort of potluck affair with a variety of dishes to sample, so consider smaller portions for everyone.

The packing notes are truly a wonderful bonus to this master picnic cookbook. Ideas for what to stock in your picnic basket are well thought out. This is a thorough and comprehensive idea book for a successful picnic!



¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

1 cup yogurt

1/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup diced dried apricots

3 cups diced cooked chicken

1 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup finely chopped scallions

Crisp lettuce leaves (optional)


Blend mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, milk, lemon juice, mustard, and salt in large bowl. Add apricots, chicken, celery and scallions. Toss lightly, combining well. Chill. Spoon into a picnic container. If desired, sprinkle salad with additional chopped apricots when serving. Serve from the container if attractive, or spoon out into a plastic bowl or platter lined with lettuce leaves. Take the lettuce separately in a plastic bag, chilled and sprinkled with water.


Recipe from The Picnic Gourmet, page 180, by Joan Hemingway and Connie Maricich. Publisher: Random House, Inc.1977.


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