Sausages is a must in our picnic diet. Cahaya always likes sausages. And when the picnic location is equipped with a barbecue equipment, it does not seem right to not have sausages on the menu. Andy does not eat red meat much. To avoid eating red meat-based dishes, he always prepared bananas, apples, and peanut butter, in any picnic occasions.
We recently had our family picnic in Flinders beach. It was almost the end of summer; it was a bright and warm day. It was a perfect day for a picnic. We brought sausages, onion (to be sautéed, and served as a side dish), and bread. M also prepared smoked trout, avocado, dill, lemon wedges, tomatoes, and rucola. Cahaya and I baked lemon ricotta cake a la Rachel Roddy in the morning. I wanted to bring cake to the picnic, because I always thought that one would need to eat something sweet after eating something savoury. I also bought two packages of Peckish rice crackers, a package of Twisties, and two small packages of chocolate (in case Cahaya would crave something really sweet). To add more nutritional values to our picnic, we brought fresh strawberries and grapes to the menu.
As with what happened throughout many of our family eating occasions, for our Flinders’ picnic session, M–Andy’s Mum, took charge of the food preparation. This included prepared a variety of sauces to accompany our meals (pepper was left at home sadly). Who prepared the food for my picnics in Indonesia? I am sure that the food was prepared by Mum, perhaps with interventions from Grandma sometimes. I took it for granted that women prepared food, and did not see it as something to problematise. But Andy was in charge of cooking the sausages on that day. Does the picnic food politics mean ‘women prepared food, and men cooking them’?
Picnic food is a combination between practical and non-practical food. What I mean by non-practical food is the kind of food, which involves long time cooking process to prepare. It is possible to bring non-practical food for picnic–but the food should be prepared and cooked at home prior. Barbecuing sausages is regarded practical as long as the barbecue equipment is available in the picnic area. Recently Andy, Cahaya, and me, went on a picnic in Jells Park. Andy needed to go far from our picnic spot to find a vacant barbecue machine. As Cahaya and me played a little bit of egg hunt near the picnic spot, my eyes caught a group of Afghani women who sat together and prepared their food. There were about 10 women sitting in circle (their children were playing in the playground, no men in sight). They chatted while kneading the dough of the bread. When they were ready, some women brought them to cook on the barbecue grill. Making bread on the picnic spot might not seem practical. But to eat certain food is like an instinct; it comes unexpectedly. For them, eating bread is a must. They had to eat the bread in every eating occasion. Perhaps this is like my Mum or Grandma who would insist on packing a bowl of rice for a picnic, or a lunch box.
Another important element to consider when preparing the picnic food is the amount of food. I prefer to bring a bit more food in the picnic bags. I do not like to feel that I bring too little food in the picnic. I want to feel that I have enough food to eat. This would run in contrast with the practicality of picnic. To bring much food means to carry many bags–an aspect that some people attempt to avoid. But is not going for a picnic partly mean relocating eating gears outside home? Bringing many bags full of stuff is unavoidable. Picnic is also an opportunity to eat outside and feel relaxed in an enjoyable atmosphere. To bring many bags might add a layer of heaviness, which potentially disrupt the relaxed ambience.