The word picnic today means a pleasurable outing wherein a tasty meal is eaten outdoors, most preferably in the beautiful folds of nature. But this practice of eating food outdoors and having to spend quality time with those you care about has its roots in the medieval times in England and Europe.
In that era, there were lavish outdoor feasts enjoyed by the more affluent people. The tradition of medieval hunting feasts and Renaissance-era Country Banquets too can be credited with laying the foundation of the outdoor dining experience. The history of picnicking is duly credited to the Europeans and over the centuries it has become an integral part of many people across the globe.
During the 14th century, there is mention of the earliest picnics which were in reality medieval hunting feasts and the main foods served there were hams, baked meats and pastries.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition, volume XI, p. 779), picnic originally means “a fashionable social entertainment in which each person present contributed a share of the provisions; now, a pleasure party including an excursion to some spot in the country where all partake of a repast out of doors: the participants may bring with them individually the viands and means of entertainment, or the whole may be provided by someone who “gives the picnic”.
Dining outdoors in a casual atmosphere with no strict menu course and a jovial company is something that defines the true spirit of a picnic.
An important component of this whole idea is the picnic basket which carries all the food supplies, drinks, cutlery and at times a rug to sit on. There are different types of baskets available, depending upon their use and the number of persons going on a picnic. The baskets may differ in shapes and size but they surely serve the basic purpose of transporting food and drinks which is the source of sustenance on any outdoor trip.
Different Types of Picnic Baskets:
Classic Style outdoor baskets are still seen in the market. These are usually made from wicker and willow and contain a single large storage space. They also feature a handle and flaps that open at both ends on the top. These baskets can be used to transport food and liquid at a relatively short distance as they do not have the facility of temperature control.
In the more advanced wicker picnic baskets like the English style hampers, there are clips on the inside to hold plates, utensils and a picnic cloth.
These are another basic type of carrier which essentially serves the same purpose as a traditional picnic basket. But it looks more like a backpack. There are multiple clips and sleeves for a variety of flatware, napkins, cloths and plates.
Totes have space on the sides to hold bottles of wine or juice. These bags are easy to carry even over a long distance as the weight is much better distributed. They are also well padded to help protect the food from damage during transportation.
Apart from these, there are also some picnic baskets which have wheels and can be drawn anywhere easily. There are also insulated coolers which can be used during picnics to store food and drinks as well.