The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The first picnic of the season!

our Victorian picnic at the Fallon House, 2012.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
My tea guild will be visiting a newly-opened historic park this weekend for a picnic!  The Alviso Adobe in Milpitas was built during the 1830s, expanded in the 1850s with a wooden second story, and was a residence until the 1980s.  Almost all of its surrounding land was sold away within the last few years and historians were worried that the house, now hidden within a housing tract, would remain unaccessible, or worse, be torn down by the landowner to make room for more condos.  Thankfully, the oldest building in the city of Milpitas was not only allowed to stand, but the acre or so of its remaining land was recently transformed into a small park, and the outside of the building was restored!  We are going to have a Victorian picnic there and see what the park is like; hopefully the inside of the building will be restored and opened to the public as Milpitas' first history museum.

The menu I'm planning will include some or all of the following:
Boiled eggs
Smoked salmon
Cucumber sandwiches
Jam sandwiches or bread-and-butter
Cheese and crackers
Fresh berries
Pound cake
Fruit turnovers
Iced tea

Our picnic will be smaller and more casual than most of those during Queen Victoria's reign, as can be inferred from the menu described in the following quotation:

"'It may be a sacrilege,' spoke up the youngish man with the fuzzy hat, 'to associate Decoration Day with anything outsied of the heroes who fought, bled, and died for their country's cause, but do you know what I always think of in connection with the approach of Decoration Day? Picnics! Yep, picnics come to my mind whith thoughts of Memorial Day just as I see stockings hanging by the fireplace at the mention of Christmas. When I was a youngster we went on a picnic every May 30, regardless of anything short of a cloudburst. It was the first holiday that came along after picnics got ripe enough to pick each Spring, and we invariably went forth on that day to eat things off a tablecloth spread on the ground. ... A few cold fried chickens, some peanut sandwiches, a big paper sack full of Saratoga chips, some potato salad in a fruit jar, two or three kinds of jelly and bread and butter, a couple of chocolate cakes and a cocoanut cake and a freeze of strawberry ice cream and a few accessories were practically all we expected at a picnic dinner in those days."
---"What Usually Happened on the Old-Fashioned Picnic," New York Times, May 26, 1912 (p. SM11)

Photos will be forthcoming!

No comments:

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)