June the time of year when I look forward to a picnic. So out of curiosity, I looked up the origin of the word. It comes the from French who coined the term “pique-nique” in the mid 1600’s. Elegant meals were enjoyed outdoors when hunting became popular among the wealthy. By the Victorian era, picnics were enjoyed by all classes. An interesting source on picnicking is Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861). She wrote about manners and how to host a proper picnic. “The easiest way to arrange a picnic is that there should be nothing wanting. And a well-arranged picnic basket will help with that”. She recommends having serving spoons, spices and a corkscrew in your basket. It is fun to enjoy a lovely day outdoors with friends and family eating cold fried chicken with pickles, deviled eggs, grapes and cheese, potato salad, pie and lemonade.
Green peas are now in season in various parts of the world. The largest producers of peas to be frozen are from Lincolnshire, a county north of London. Because of its elevation, flat land and fertile soil, the British found this area to be ideal for growing pea pods. This explains the famous British side dish of “mushy peas” which is a green bowl of goodness consisting of peas, butter, salt, and pepper. Mushy peas can be garnished with mint and served with fish and chips. Peas do like a cool climate which is why they grow well in the northern Italian region of Veneto west of Venice. And every year, the city of Vicenza has a green pea festival in the heart of Veneto. One of their classic dishes is spring peas with onions and pancetta.
Fresh peas do not last very long naturally because they oxidize so quickly. That is why it’s important to freeze green peas when they are fresh. That had me wondering about the history of Birds Eye. Clarence Birdseye was the first to freeze peas in 1922. He made a name for himself as the founder of the frozen food industry. He started off developing freezing techniques for meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables. By the 1940’s, residential refrigerators had a freezer compartment making it handy for families to store frozen foods.
Here are the new recipes for June: Green Pea Salad (Leafy Things), Breakfast Biscuit Buns (Eye Openers), Roasted Tomato, Ricotta and Basil Crostini (Small Plates) and Lasagna Rolls (Pasta and Rice).