Food Friday: Al Fresco Frittatas


Summer is winding down. We have enjoyed the near-spectacle of the eclipse. We aren’t melting into silvery puddles of sweat every time we exit the air conditioned car and tear across the driveway into the house. Labor Day is coming up, and the most wonderful time of the year is returning – it is almost time to go back to school. How divine is that? But it is still too early to consider the myriad permutations that we can dream up for the lunch boxes in our care.

Al fresco dining, whether on the back porch, in the back yard, before a concert or poised on a picnic table in a state park, is a seasonal delight. Let’s enjoy the fresh air, and enjoy the last days of summer.

Al fresco dining brings to my mind lush paintings. Just across the Bay in DC, Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of my favorites. I don’t think those happy, elegant French people were consuming Diet Cokes and fried chicken (which are both very deelish in any other setting). Our boaters have used stemmed glasses for the several bottles of wine strewn across the linen tablecloth. And there is fruit and bread and perhaps some cheese. I can see a glint of silver. Some of our convivial folks have flowers in their hats, and are wearing flowing dresses, which contribute to the colorful party atmosphere. Luncheon is almost over. No one is consulting a smart phone, as they seem to engage with each other languidly. I do draw the line at the small dog on the table. Luke the wonder dog would get ideas.

Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet is the famous painting of men and women picnicking under the trees, but one of the women is naked, and is seemingly untroubled by the situation. I can only imagine what her anxiety dreams must have been like. She is sitting next to a tumble of fruit and bread, while her male companions natter on, fully clothed and showing no interest in the food or in her!

Luncheon on the Grass by Claude Monet, which was painted in response to Manet’s startling work, is another large painting that shows an elegant meal about to be eaten outside. The diners (all clothed this time) will soon be enjoying bread, wine, fruit, and a terrine of a mystery dish in the dappled light filtered by birch trees. The meal has yet to begin. And there is no tiny dog.

I suggest frittatas for our luncheon under the trees. Frittatas are easy to prepare and they transport well. You might even consider adding frittatas to your Sunday Food for the Week Food Prep list – you can sneak them into a back pack or a brown paper bag or a cute little bento box for your own luncheon pleasures.

Skip the stemware. Skip the tablecloth. Enjoy the fresh air. Enjoy the wine.

I can assure you that Mr. Friday and I will be wearing all of our clothes when we have our picnic this weekend.

Here’s a Use-Up-The-Leftovers recipe. It is very handy dandy.

Luncheon of the Boating Party
The Phillips Collection
1600 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe
Luncheon on the Grass
Musée d’Orsay
1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur
75007 Paris, France

“I’ll affect you slowly
as if you were having a picnic in a dream.
There will be no ants.
It won’t rain.”
― Richard Brautigan

About Jean Sanders

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