It is hard to disagree with W. Somerset Maugham’s view that there are a few things so pleasant as a picnic lunch. “Even if ants and wasps occasionally join in the fun, picnics are the very epitome of innocent pastoral delight,” he wrote. However, they haven’t always been so carefree nor held in a bucolic setting.
Picnics started to come into their own during the 18th century as a favorite pastime of the aristocracy. They were held always indoors either at homes or rented rooms. Guests were required to contribute either by bringing a dish or drink or by sharing in the cost. Come the 19th century and the idea of having a picnic was taken over by the middle classes and held outdoors. Yet a few remaining indoor events were still being held.
Not until the 20th century did the outdoor picnic prevail over the indoor. Soon their popularity had grown to such pitch that special picnic baskets were being produced for the masses. A celebration of human spirit, culinary diversity and adventu...
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