The cruise industry is restarting and borders are reopening … Slower than we hoped for while there are still bumps in the road. Maybe they are waves? On the positive side, August weather has started off great. Picnicking at a socially distanced event, a friend’s house, your own garden or the park is practical.
Here are ten picnics you can pack to remind you of favorite ports. Let’s not overcomplicate this project. You’ve got the picnic blanket, pillows, plates, napkins, cups and cutlery packed. You have a trash bag too. Many of these items you chose because they are green or recyclable. Alcohol might be permitted, depending if it’s private or public space. There might be a food truck nearby selling beer or wine.
- Sushi. You miss Japan. Because of temperature considerations you’ve kept things simple. You are thinking California rolls and other basic sushi sold by better supermarkets. You aren’t a sake person, but a Kirin beer would taste good right about now.
- Antipasto. You are dreaming of Tuscany. It’s what I’m planning to bring to a jazz concert in a couple of weeks. Everything is cold. I’m intending to buy prosciutto, mozzarella, parmesan, roasted red pepper skins, artichoke hearts, good olives, nuts and possibly some provolone. Add on a load of sliced Italian bread and we’ve got a meal. They don’t allow attendees to bring alcohol, but I’m hoping its on sale at the event.
- Tapas. Doesn’t everyone love Madrid and Barcelona? There’s a challenge here between what you can do cold and if hot food is available nearby. The cold food is easy. Start with sliced Iberico ham. Manchego cheese too. Olives and nuts are easy. Yes, it’s sounding like the antipasto platter! I think boiled shrimp with a dipping sauce would be fine too. Now we hope hot food is nearby. Calamari should be easy. Fried potatoes are another tapas staple that shouldn’t be difficult to find. I’d bring a rose if the let me.
- Mezze platter. We could be in several countries on the Mediterranean. Items are hummus and/or baba ghanoush along with pita bread. Grilled vegetables too. Add a cheese like feta or goat’s cheese. Sliced fresh vegetables are another accompaniment. I’d go with a crisp white wine.
- Roast chicken. You are driving through France (anywhere, it doesn’t matter.) You spot a market in the town square. You buy a roast chicken (remarkably similar to those sold at Costco.) You get a baguette. (Ditto). You find an interesting cold salad. France is where I first tried celiac. It’s cold, but you can make it up. Let’s not forget olives and cheese. You pull off the road (in your imagination, not on I-95) and enjoy your lunch in the countryside. A Provence rose would go well.
- Chilled seafood. Now we are mentally in Portugal. Lots of what we would like isn’t practical, unless you find a way to chill your already shucked clams and oysters. Boiled shrimp are good. Same with ceviche. Smoked salmon rounds it out. Once again, I would choose a crisp white wine.
- Ploughman’s lunch. It’s not that tough, but you need to find a condiment called Branson Pickle. Look online. The meal is easy. A hunk or bread. Butter. Ham lor another sliced meat. Salad greens and tomato. An actual sweet pickle. It looks and sounds positively healthy. A Bass ale would be a good match.
- Philly cheesesteaks. We are into hot food now. Pretending you are in Philadelphia, you have picked a place to picnic near someplace selling cheese steaks. They are a long bun, sliced open and filled with shaved steak, onions and cheese that have been cooked on a grill. It’s served piping hot with French fries. Cold beer works.
- Hot dogs and French fries. You are mentally at Coney Island in Brooklyn. Ideally you’ve got a place nearby that serves Nathan’s franks and French fries. The hot dogs have a crunchy skin. The fries are thick and crinkle cut. Nathans operates in some food courts. Hopefully you are near one. Coke is a good match.
- Dim Sum. You are mentally in Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai. Physically you are near a Chinese restaurant that serves dim sum, typically in the mornings. If you are in your back yard, stop by Trader Joes and pick out a selection from their frozen food cabinet. They only take a few minutes in the microwave. Tea is a good match, but if you have humidity comparable to Hong Kong, you’ll know why ide cold beer is a good match.
We might not be sailing to our favorite ports yet, but we can pretend.
Cover photo: Cruise ship at Key West’s Mallory Square with schooner on sunset cruise in background ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews