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And now back to our regular programming . . .
Given my affection for butter, cream and triple cream brie, it may seem odd that sometimes on our travels, Jim and I find ourselves turning away from another butter-rubbed steak and cream-filled restaurant meal in favor of something more basic.
The first recorded occurrence of this phenomenon was on our first trip to Italy, in Florence to be precise. After a day of wandering, artwork gawking and crocodile handbag coveting, we found ourselves in Florence’s Central Mercado. As usual, I was hungry. Jim, naturally, was not. I secured food from a vendor with a long line and a heavenly looking Bolognese sauce and Jim and I sat to soak up the market and my pasta. As I dined on a delicious pasta dish made of unknown ingredients but which Jim was pretty sure included tripe, I naturally started to think – hmmm, what’s for dinner?
Now my husband has many wonderful features, but he is a persnickety eater who couldn’t care less about food – a dreaded food is fuel person. (It is rather unbelievable that we coexist at all, much less in the same house.) The Italian three-hour meal, while heaven to me was sheer torture to him, especially as it was early days in a courtship when he tried not to leave meals to sneak a cigarette (Cupid really has a sick sense of humor pairing someone allergic to smoke with a smoker). So while I polished off my pasta and mystery sauce we devised a plan to procure good food that could be eaten in under three-hours and was a bit lighter than the fare we had been tucking into. In other words, we devised a picnic. Prosciutto, Speck, Salami, Pecorino, a soft creamy goat cheese (of course), grapes, bread, the all important Chianti and even a nifty silverware set and bread knife were acquired at the Central Mercado. We took them back to our hotel room and when we were hungry we had our first – floor picnic.
The floor picnic has made a regular appearance on most of our travels to date and we became increasingly chagrined at having to re-buy the essentials. While I have a lovely picnic basket at home, it’s just too big to keep in my Mini. And so, the picnic emergency kit was born.
- 2 glass wine glasses (plastic just does not cut it) wrapped in bubble wrap to prevent breakage;
- A wine opener;
- A serrated knife that can be used for bread, salami, cheese, apples and whatever else may need to be sliced and diced;
- Cloth napkins or paper towels; and
- A trash bag.
Additional items I include to make life easier:
- 2 melamine plates;
- 2 melamine silverware sets in Ziplocs that can be used for trash; and
- a mini-cutting board.
All of these items fit in a handy, dandy reusable shopping bag and take up miniscule Mini space. Combine them with the “emergency” blanket in my car (for use in case the seat warmers malfunction) and we’re prepared for a picnic on the beach, in the woods (like you’ll ever get me to the woods), in a hotel room, on the side of the road, or for some bad Shakespeare in the park. Just add food. . . and WINE.