Sunday, February 21, 2010

Anybody Hungry?

What kinds of foods do you consider to be "picnic food"? Where do you like to go to eat them?

I associate barbeque with picnics. I especially like barbequed chicken, my grandmother's macaroni salad, my mother's baked beans, grilled asparagus, and oh man am I getting hungry!

Corn on the cob. With lots of real butter. BBQ steak, still red in the middle (I like it bloody-- I'm a bit of a vampire, I guess...). BBQ hot dogs and hamburgers that you cook for the kids but you end up eating a few yourself. Large pitchers of iced tea. Cans of soda buried in ice in a cooler. Chips and dip or salsa. Cookies, cakes and brownies. Strawberry pretzel jello.

I remember having picnic lunches and dinners on the lake up at Lake Shasta when I was a kid. Something about the atmosphere while playing in the water and being baked in the sun made the food that much more tasty.

One time we rented a houseboat, along with our family friends. We had versatile inboard/outboard boat and they had a jet boat. They also had four boys, mostly all around the same age as me. We spent a lot of time skiing the lake (although I was not one to participate-- I was too afraid of failing to try!) and then would return to the houseboat for fuel-- body fuel, that is. At that point we were hungry enough that dirt and rocks would have sounded good. Luckily for us, our moms were better cooks than that.

Just cheese and crackers and salami was exquisite enough, in the environment of the lake. The scenery, and the sounds of other boats pulling skiers past us, and the gentle lapping of the wake along the shore-- it all added up to make everything seem more intensely experienced. Emotional augmentation, if you will.

I'm remembering large gatherings that I associate with the "picnic" genre-- like Park Fete in Escalon, CA. Originally an event organized to clean up the downtown park, Park Fete grew to become a fierce trashing force of the entire downtown area. Booths with crafts and face painting and the like added to the carnival atmosphere-- but the real agent of mischief was the mixing in of alcohol. Drinkers from the two bars on the main street would spill into the street as the day drew into night and quite a ruckus would ensue. Not to quell the mood, there used to be a "street dance" with live music from a local band. They'd set up on a large flatbed truck trailer and play dancing tunes into the wee hours, while drunks got drunker and dancers got a little too free-swinging with their arms-- fights would ensue, and the next day would be spent drying out and mending fences, both metaphorically and literally. And the next week would be spent cleaning up.

I thought I should mention corn dogs.

Not being one to partake in the festive libation anymore, I've gained perspective on the art of over indulgence. I still respect beer, and wish my lips and tongue could dance with its velvety elixir. But I know in this time that I cannot partake, and so I observe as others do the partaking. At any rate, I still imagine I could produce a long riff on the ultimate picnic food: beer. But, alas, today is not the day for such an endeavor. Besides, beer deserves its own chapter, if not its own book; it's not a footnote in the annuls of picnic food. Suffice it to say that beer does as much to the environment of enjoyment as a warm sunny day on the lake does.

And then some. Especially if you have a cold one on a warm sunny day while relaxing on the lake.

With potato chips. Yeah.


Gerri said...

I want to go on a houseboat again! Wouldn't it be fun to find that cove we found by the dam that one night? I remember that being so peaceful and beautiful...

I want something BBQ'd, too!

Deb said...

Mmmm... picnics. Being out in the fresh air sure does something to the appetite. And I, for one, do not need any help in that area. I am ready to eat any BBQed foods at any time. Thanks for making me hungry too.