Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Picnic according to the NSOED, originally meant a social event for which each guest provided a share of the food. It derives from the French pique-nique (late 17th century) and early English usage almost invariably relates to descriptions of foreign affairs. See potluck for the US version of such a meal. Later it was linked to an excursion, for example to a beach, or the countryside, where food would be taken to eat out of doors. For many people, contemporary picnics involve an element of simplicity, where uncomplicated food such as hard-boiled eggs, sandwiches, pieces of cold chicken are eaten without ceremony.