Living abroad had a tremendously permanent affect on me and most of what I do in my day to day life. It was while living in France I learned the most about myself, saw how not to act as a mother (I'll share more about that another day!) and discovered how to truly appreciate family, friends, food and fun above materialistic goods and consumerist attitudes. Interesting, since I was living in one of the most affluent areas of the world (Monte Carlo).
Aside from this wonderful appreciation for different things in life, I also learned how to eat some really good food. Really good. I picnicked almost every day with an assortment of goods found around the kitchen and it was effortless compared to the North American picnics I was used to. No barbecued chicken, pre-made sandwiches and sugar-laden beverages and treats. Nope...it was just a collection of random pantry items and fridge-foods tossed together and laid out for everyone to help themselves. Brilliant, really.
Now, as a Mom with really hungry boys, this is one of my favourite ways to feed my kiddies. I don't wait specifically for warm weather or picnic-blanket eating - instead we have "Parisian Picnics" all the time. Especially when we're feeding other kids. I have put together a short list of how I like to use these picnics and the foods I like to include in them. I hope this encourages you to have a French-inspired feast one of these days.
Weekday Lunches - This is my favourite way to feed a gaggle of kiddies who've come for lunch. Place assorted items on a large wooden cutting board, with small items and dips and spreads tucked neatly into little bowls. Give each child a small plate and let them at the buffet! It's so interesting to see who eats what and I find my own children might be inclined to eat something they think they aren't fond of, if their friends give it a go first.
Family Weekend Lunches - The perfect opportunity to clean out the fridge before the next round of food shopping. It's great to set out food and let family members help themselves as they are home and feel the need to nosh. Sometimes one of us adults is out with one child and instead of cooking two lunches we just leave everything out, with some plates on the side and can help ourselves as we feel the need.
Parties/Holidays/Large Gatherings - I find this to be an easy and stress-free way to entertain. Whether you are hosting ten people or thirty, set out a large picnic table/buffet table and fill up the space with an assortment of your favourite ingredients, using your most-loved baskets, bowls and platters. If this is an adults-only party you can use premium cheeses and meats and if your event involves lots of little-ones be sure to include some kid-friendly fare like homemade marshmallows, cookies and chocolate dipped strawberries.
Here is a list of nine yummy foods to include in any "Parisian Picnic":
1. Breads - baguette, wraps, mini bagels, rye bread, biscuits
2. Crisps and Crackers - wheat crackers, rice crackers, raincoast crisps, pretzels
3. Cheeses - brie, goat, assorted cheddar, blue
4. Fruits - grapes, apples, strawberries,
5. Veggies - broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, celery, olives
6. Meats/Main - Virginia ham (sliced), quiche, roast chicken
7. Dips/Spreads - hummus, babaganoush, egg salad, tuna salad, tzatziki, butter, preserves
8. Beverages - flat/sparkling water, sparkling juices, lemonade, wine
9. Sweets/Treats - chocolates, dried fruits, dates, nuts, bite-sized cookies, cake, loaves
Tell me, what foods would you include in your "Parisian Picnic"?