If there’s one thing the French know, it’s food—and good food at that. After spending almost a month in the food capital of the world, I’ve tasted everything from frog legs to french fries, cow tongue to crème brûlée, mojitos to macaroons. Although I’ve yet to meet a dish I don’t like, my favorite meals come from the outdoor markets on Saturday and Sunday mornings where, for just a few euros, I can buy enough cheese, sausage, vegetables and bread to make the perfect mid-day meal.
While nothing rivals the views from the quai or the parks of France, the ingredients for my favorite picnics aren’t reserved to European markets; in fact, darlings, you can find everything you need for a French picnic “chez toi” at your local grocery store. With only a basket of these snacks, a picnic blanket and an iPod, you just might be able to convince yourself that the cell tower in the distance is the work of Gustave Eiffel himself.
Nothing beats a classic baguette when it comes to texture—crispy on the outside, soft on the inside—and flavor, but for easier carrying and to avoid slicing, plain or flavored crackers are just as tasty. Short cuts: Trader Joe’s Pita Bite Crackers or Tomato and Sweet Basil Triscuits.
With so many cheeses to choose from, I’ve learned to narrow down the search by choosing one to spread and one to slice. Brie, Camembert, and Reblochon are all soft cheeses and go well on bread or crackers. To stack with sausage or eat by the slice, Gruyère, Swiss, or even a sharp Cheddar are the way to go. Short cuts: Babybell mozzarella or Laughing Cow varieties.
The French have almost as many sausage flavors as they do cheese, but my favorites are the mild sausage that pair well with my bread and cheese. Especially if you choose a flavored cracker, original beef summer sausage is delicious and easy to serve.
This depends on what types of vegetables you prefer because the French have just about anything. I often buy big beefsteak tomatoes to eat with the cheese and crackers, or cucumber to enjoy by itself.
It’s 5:00 somewhere isn’t it, and what French picnic would be complete without wine? My go-to flavor in France is a Côte du Rhône, but any red wine will pair nicely with the rest of the meal.
Strawberries, chocolate, and the rest of that wine.
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