|Review: The Urban Picnic|
Mar 15th, 2006
The Urban Picnic by John Burns & Elisabeth Caton is a fun book. The subtitle, Being an Idiosyncratic and Lyrically Recollected Account of Menus, Trivia, and Admonitions on the Subject of Alfresco Dining in Cities Both Large and Small, should clue you in to the tone of the book. The authors do indeed produce the aforementioned trivia in a section on the history of the picnic. Then they offer twenty or so different menu, music, and wine suggestions for different types of picnics with a veggie and meat-eaters menu offered for each. The recipes follow and make up the bulk of the book.
I really enjoyed reading through the descriptions of different types of urban picnics you could take (Beach, Winter, Hotel Room, etc.) and the music you might pack for each adventure (Queen's four-cd Platinum collection, Johnny Cash, and Laura Nyro's Live Sessions respectively). The recipes range from extremely simple to complex, but they all look tasty. Given the Slow Food manifesto reproduced towards the front of the book, don't expect to find any 'Fun with American cheese-food product!' type recipes here, just tasty picnic-appropriate food with some really killer sounding desserts.
Some recipes I marked to try included an Apple Cake with Ginger and Cardamom, Potted Shrimp Infused with Savory Herbs and Garlic, and Sun-blushed Tomato Feta Scones with Black Olives.