LSD, Chopin and Volleyball: Picnic Time
It's National Picnic Week. "Picnic" means something different for everyone - whether it's gorging on a hamper full of heaven, drinking yourself into oblivion, smashing a shuttlecock back and forth, tripping balls on acid - every picnic has one thing in common - pleasure, pure and simple. Cafébabel spoke to picnic enthusiasts from all across Europe.
A rest from reality
Duncan Griffiths: "Sitting and eating is all well and good- especially when complimented by some words, which can often happen at a picnic. But the picnic's success ultimately rests upon entertainment. And when I say entertainment, I really mean ball games. And ball games can equally be narrowed down to the one ball: The Soft Touch Volleyball. Stand in a circle with this magical object and use hands, feet, chest, shoulders or head. Devise a game in which each member begins on five lives, and where a forfeit is forever menacingly lingering on your shoulder. Suddenly outside pressures and issues evaporate under the glowering sun, as you become immersed within the simple pleasures of this compelling drama. A beautiful break from reality; the key to any true excursion."
Chopin and sinsemilia
Imagine lying on the soft, freshly harvested grass, listening to Chopin’s Nocturne in E Flat Major, which reaches your ears through the conducive mirrory surface of a pond. In the middle of the pond there is an island with a pianist playing the most exquisite pieces by Poland’s most prominent composers. People gathered around the water let themselves be immersed in the warm clouds of inspiring soundwaves. Suddenly, the pianist’s fingers begin to move at a frenetic pace. The music changes from peaceful to heroic and you open your eyes wide in a revelationary reflex. You go with this new ambiance and you lazily stretch your hand to get a spliff somehow stuck in between the fingers of the friend lying next to you. The afternoon sun caresses your face lovingly and it feels like Warsaw’s Łazienki Park is the most beautiful place in the world.
Kool aid acid test
At picnics I have often observed with great jealousy, the joys and the jaunts of young children, frolicking in fields, watching a simple feather flutter from air to earth, eyes dancing with wonder. “Why can’t I be like that any more?” I ask myself wistfully. “Why can’t I recapture that childlike wonder?” “Why can’t I love every little quirk of nature?” Well, I can, and the simple answer is LSD. So, after a meal of two tiny stamps, I lie on my back, the grass soft on my skin. A prosaic park becomes a kingdom of curiosities. That child-like wonder is back. The ground is no longer below me. I am looking down at the sky, floating in a viscous ocean of pleasure. A limpid canopy of leaves glows overhead. And then I’m on my knees, crawling along, eyes closed, led by my nose, devouring every spring scent like a ravenous beast. A particularly powerful odour jerks me to my feet like a puppet on strings. I eat a strawberry and look at a football- how can something be so exquisitely round? What a wonderful creation. A shoal of huge Japanese tourists meanders past, steaming with sweat, gluteus maxima trembling as if they are twerking. I groan with delight. Even this is enchanting. Which divine being invented the picnic?
Gourmands on the grass
Sticking to clichés, for the French, the fulcrum of the picnic is food- refined food, sumptuous food, food to make your toes curl, foie-gras and divine baguettes. And as far as I am concerned, this is absolutely the case. Well, maybe not the foie-gras, but, for me, a picnic is all about the feeling of being at a dining table. The key ingredient- bread. Whole-grain or wheat, or the most unusual thing you can get your hands on. A picnic with white bread is like inviting bad weather. And what else? A rice salad, boiled eggs, strawberry tomatoes… you’re not far from perfection. An absolute must is to go the supermarket just before hand to buy a little basket of aubergine caviar, olives and basil. And, of course, an ice-cold bottle of rosé, from the fridge in the cellar. - Lucille Fonteny
Two ships together in the night
Someone once told me Doritos are carcinogenic. Whilst I struggle to believe they’re any more unhealthy than your average crisp, I still feel a slight guilt when I decide to indulge in them. Maybe that’s why indulging in them feels so darn good. On this particular occasion I was snacking on the bank of the lake of Retiro, which is one of my favourite places to spend time in the world. I had a warm beer from a seedy vendor, a biscuit not even Method Man could have twisted, and a surprising bit of company. Having given a homeless inhabitant of the park 20 cents towards his beer whip round over a year before, a mutual tendency to frequent the same lake had led to a ships in the night type friendship. Today, he had decided, these ships in the night needed to find a couple of honeys. After some reluctance I made the leap from trying to eat a snack to trying to meet a yat, and my lonely picnic was no more. - Aaron Lewin.
Recently, I regained my childhood interest in London Fields: playing badminton. My friend brought some new rackets to a picnic and he asked me to play with him. But how could I play in a long dress and high heels? He was skeptical: "Why not? You are Chinese so you must good at playing." I took him up on his challenge. I threw off my high heels and the game started. I enjoyed watching the ball sail through the air and the thrill of trying to return the serves. Surprisingly, I beat my friend, who wore a pair of sports shoes. - Hangwei Li