The picnic is back.

A combination of nostalgia and the modern way we eat has seen young people dig out their parents’ Tupperware and thermos flasks from the back of the cupboard and head to the park.

“When you think about it, it’s the way we dine in restaurants now, ” Kellie Wilcock, WA manager of gourmet food retailer Simon Johnson, said.

“We’re essentially picnicking in restaurants these days, what with the increasing popularity of share plates in the middle of the table and small platters of interesting food.

“It’s no surprise then that picnics are cool again.”

Ms Wilcock said the nostalgia for the picnics of our parents’ and grandparents’ eras does not extend to the food.

Sweaty egg and lettuce sandwiches and greasy chicken drumsticks with mayonnaise are out, and new, lighter specialty foods are in.

“Good cheeses, artisanal sliced meats and smallgoods, grain-based salads, good bread and home-baked ‘party’ food are the essentials these days, ” she said.

Young picnickers Jess Kendall, Amaani Alikhan and Sabina Puzey say eating outdoors is what Perth's warmer months are all about. “It’s a bit special, ” Ms Kendall said. “When you combine lovely food with the outdoors it doesn’t get much better.

“It’s a great way to meet with friends. We get out the rugs, dress up a bit, it’s an event.”

The three friends, out and about in Kings Park, say picnicking is also a way to take their time, relax “and have fun without spending a million dollars in a restaurant”.

Their favourite spots include the grassy slopes overlooking Cottesloe beach, Kings Park and the banks of the Swan River at Crawley.

Ms Wilcock said the influence of Perth’s hip young restaurant chefs, TV chefs like Jamie Oliver and so-called dude food venues has trickled down to a young, food literate audience with a passion for food.

“They are buying small amounts of luxury food their parents would only ever have dreamed about eating, ” she said.

’It’s a great way to meet with friends. We get out the rugs, dress up a bit, it’s an event.’”Jess Kendall


© The West Australian

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First published in The West Australian September 20, 2014.