Nothing can seem more tempting on a hot summer’s day than to put on a white muslin dress, spray on some Yardley’s lily-of-the-valley scent and take a picnic hamper to the river, the nearest ruined temple, or just your own backyard. Jane Eyre, one of the characters in the Annabelle Troy novel Jane Eyre Gets Real, is all in favor of a Regency picnic. Her tips:

Pack a big wicker hamper or basket. You can put a cooler inside, discreetly hidden. Use real cutlery and spread out a pretty tablecloth, preferably with embroidery.

Modern menu/Regency approved:

Tomatoes & Potatoes were being eaten in the 18th century (in earlier times these foods were considered poisonous). Sugar, now affordable due to a booming if evil plantation industry, was very popular and was even used to preserve potted meats. There was a liberal use of spices, especially nutmeg, cloves and pepper. Moulding foods into fun shapes was all the rage–it was even more fun if that food quivered to begin with. You could also never go wrong with French or Italian confections. The average Londoner consumed 2 pints of gin daily (this amount has probably only increased with time…)

A Jane Eyre Picnic, Inspired by Jane Austen:

Pimm’s Cup (basically ginger ale & gin with cucumbers and fruit added, as well as some mint)

Candied Cherry Tomatoes Served on Sticks (think tomato lollipops; Mr. Darcy especially loves these)

Jellied Chicken and Aspic Terrine (this will quiver aplenty)

German Potato Salad (so much better without that nasty mayo)

Cold Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

Roast beef sandwiches on fresh rolls with a dab of horseradish; lightly butter the bread with good country butter and you will have a sandwich such as God–and the Duke of Sandwich–intended

Deviled Ham with Pickle Sandwiches

Jello Cubes Shaped Like Stars

A Punnet of Strawberries

An assortment of Cookies from the best French bakery, including macarons & tiny meringues

Cold Tea/Iced Coffee/Lemonade

Remember: arrange everything symmetrically on your tablecloth; as readers of Austen know, appearance counts for a great deal. And do say “please” and “thank you” when passing the refreshments.

 

 

 

 

 

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