Friday, March 18


We reserve a whole type of eating experience for "out of doors," where for once we eat seated on the ground. We are very self-conscious about picnics, and the freedom we grant ourselves to lounge about on a blanket eating cold food with our hands. We travel long distances and put up with a thousand risks and inconveniences to reach this state ... People often think that "there is nothing like the out of doors" for lending one an appetite. Fresh air and natural beauty, adventure, no cooking, and no tables and chairs -- a good picnic is a thrilling reversal of normal rules ... The general feeling of relief from normal constraints might even lead to the kind of liberty depicted in Manet's painting Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, a faint and distant echo of the shocking behaviour of ancient Greek Bacchanals, who escaped the constraints of city living by going wild in the woods.

-- Margaret Visser The Rituals of Dinner