This is my first time sharing something from the great Recipe Reminiscing blog, which brings us, as the title says, great eats from yesteryear. I liked this article because it’s got a historical angle: the history of picnics from the Middle Ages to the present day! The history of food is always interesting, and the social customs surrounding it even more so. Enjoy!


What is a picnic?


Food historians tell us picnics evolved from the elaborate traditions of moveable outdoor feasts enjoyed by the wealthy. Medieval hunting feasts, Renaissance-era country banquets, and Victorian garden parties lay the foundation for today’s leisurely repast. Picnics, as the Americans know them today, date to the middle of the 19th century. Although the “grand picnic” is generally considered a European concept, culinary evidence confirms people from other parts of the world engage in similar practices.

The earliest picnics in England were medieval hunting feasts. Hunting conventions were established in the 14th century, and the feast before the chase assumed a special importance. Gaston de Foiz, in a work entitled Le Livre de chasse (1387), gives a detailed description of such an event in France. As social habits in 14th century England were similar to those in medieval France, it is safe to assume that picnics were more or…

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