Nothing spontaneous about Hazelton’s picnics. She  contends a picnic begins wheninvite the people and then figure out the food.”  “My idea of a good picnic, she writes, “is one that I can fix up at home and need only carry and unpack at the chosen spot. I loathe cooking out-of-doors, which I find an inconvenient bore. After all, I am perfectly willing to provide any amount of nice food for my guests, so why must I cook under the most inconvenient circumstances?”

“Many picnic suggestions, even good one,” Hazelton explains, “give recipes for a given number of people. I do not find this practical, but I’ve never set out to give a picnic for six or twenty. I invite the people I want, then figure out the food.” The picnics in Hazelton’s cookbook are arranged by theme:  “A Boat-Launching Picnic,” “A Winter Picnic,” “A West Indian Island Picnic,” and a “Paying-back-an-Obligation Picnic, among others.

Not without a sense of humor, this is Hazelton’s menu for “A Picnic a Deux in a Graveyard.”
Double Consommé with Sherry or Manzanilla
Foie-Gras Naturel, Asparagus Vinaigrette
French Bread, Strawberry Tarts
Cold Chicken with Circassian Walnut Sauce
4       Slices white bread, crusts trimmed
1 ½   Cups chicken consommé
3       Cups walnut meats
       Grated rind of 1 lemon (optional)
1       Tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
1       Cooked chicken, sliced
Tear bread slices into container of the blender. Add the chicken consommé. Turn the motor on high, blend until smooth. Turn off the motor and add ½ cup walnuts; blend until smooth. Turn off the motor and blend in another cup of walnuts. Repeat the process until all the walnuts have been blended into the sauce. Stir in the lemon rind and lemon juice and blend quickly once more. Arrange the chicken slices on a platter and spread each piece with the Walnut Sauce. Sprinkle with paprika. Chill.      

Featured Image: Maggie MacGowan’s Picnic in a Graveyard

See Nika Hazelton’s The Picnic Book. Drawings by Maggie MacGowan. New York: Atheneum, 1969. Also Constance Urdang’s “Picnic in the Cemetery” (1975) and Beth Henley’s Ridiculous Fraud (2007)