Everything Tastes Better in the Fresh Air
01 September 2020
Guild member Kalpna Woolf has contacted us to tell us that she and the community-focused social enterprise 91 Ways to Build a Global City were featured in a national newspaper for NHS workers and hospitals. Kalpna was asked to write a piece about picnics from communities around the world and she has shared an excerpt from the article:
‘What would you pack in a picnic for a trip to the seaside? Indians love to pack a feast wherever they are going. If you were going on a train journey, you would take parathas – soft stuffed flatbreads with different spiced vegetables (cooked potatoes, grated cauliflower and sometimes, mooli), a pot of pickles and yoghurt. It’s easy to make a stack of these and eat hot or cold. India is a huge country – North Indians, like myself, would take samosas – vegetable triangular pastry stuffed with mashed potatoes and spices, or puri, chana aloo – chickpeas and potato dry curry topped on crispy fried puffed breads – a meal-in-one! Vegetable rice pilau or biryanis are very popular with a coriander and mint yoghurt side. South Indians make rice breads (Uttappom) to dip scoop up a fiery lentil and vegetable sambal or hot fish curries, rice and fish cutlets. We always take fresh fruit with us.
‘91 Ways connects with our 91 language communities and we share food from each other’s heritage. At one of our 91 Ways Supper events, Moh, our Iranian friend, talked about long picnics which for young people are an opportunity for romance, and for elderly people, a chance to catch up with family and friends. Persian Kookoo – a type of frittata bursting with fresh herbs of dill, parsley, and coriander is always a part of the picnic as is roasted meat and chicken Kebabs stuffed in large, fresh breads nestling under a beautiful red pomegranate dip. He said that when the food is ready, everyone eats until they can’t anymore. They then drink some strong Persian tea with nabat (crystallised sugar with saffron).
‘Our Syrian communities talk fondly of days gone by and of picnics full of fresh zingy salads like Ful Medames – Fava beans mixed with fresh tomatoes, onions with garlic, limes. Baroks which are light, mini pastries filled with olives and peppers. Syrians love stuffed vegetables, so mini-courgettes, mini-aubergines are stuffed with rice and roasted. Elegant, subtle flavours and perfect as small finger foods at picnics.
‘Our friend Christien shares that the Dutch have a different approach to picnics; they are traditionally a country of walking and cycling and due to the relative scarcity of beautiful days, they try to “make the most of it”. They either rush out to the countryside for hikes while bringing a few sandwiches and a flask of tea for during the lunch break. Or they are magazine readers who whisk up a quiche, goats cheese salad and rosemary focaccia for a child-friendly picnic in the park. The latter group brings ball games, too, and lemonade from the elderflower tree.’