How to Gatsby
By Laurie Gordon
Edited by Diana Limberis
Setting the Scene
2011 Gatsby Summer Afternoon Perfect Picnic winner
- photo by Kyla Colleen
If you haven't rented a table or are bringing your own vintage table set, a carpet, blanket or sturdy tablecloth for the ground works well. Add pillows, parasols, fans and wear those hats for comfort and to keep cool and protected from the sun. Go to Chinatown for linens, parasols (paper and fabric), crochet gloves, fans and baskets. Picnic baskets, vintage magazines, books, games, a Victrola, a ukelele or guitar, vintage cameras, antique photos, candy dishes, vintage tins or boxes can all create that authentic ambiance for the day.
Setting the Table
For a period picnic, please, no plastic or Styrofoam! An elegant picnic might use your vintage china, Depression glass or unbreakable contemporary glass (such as French bistro style tumblers) packed safely using your linen napkins. For a casual tableau, paper plates with basket holders will work. Your vintage silver plate, silverware, & linens (embroidered or from Chinatown) are required. Bring extra bowls, platters and serving pieces for the friend who brings their excellent potato salad in a plastic container (and hide it under a cloth).
Practical Packing Tips
In addition to baskets, you can use old suitcases to transport everything. Put dry goods in one and food and drink in another. Bring an empty basket to store cameras, video camcorders, sunscreen, first aid or sewing repair kits, non-Gatsby essentials, etc. Bring trash bags, Ziploc bags for leftovers, paper towels, dishtowels for end of day cleanup. Bring a blanket or cloth to cover things you don't want to show.
A Gatsby Summer Afternoon Perfect Picnic
- photo by Richard Look
No cans please! Instead, choose sodas in vintage style bottles, use a funnel to put beverages in plain bottles with stoppers, use Sherry or wine bottles with corks, use a pitcher for juice, lemonade or iced tea, a shaker for cocktails, a punch bowl with a block of ice floating in it. And champagne, sparkling cider, and wine are always appropriate. See Whole Foods for bottled sparkling lemonade & orangeade. Stewart's Sodas are also a good choice (lots of flavors!). Trader Joe's has a very vintage-looking big bottle of Geyser orangeade soda, pink lemonade soda, etc. Remember that bottles with ceramic stoppers can be cleaned and re-used year after year.
Four Menu Plans
Period picnic menues from www.foodtimeline.org
Elegant Supper for Six
with carpet, table items, linens, candelabra, vintage china, silver
& crystal, flower arrangement.
sandwiches (no crust, 2-3 cut out shapes) filled with chopped
egg & caviar, smoked salmon & cucumber, olives &
radishes with cream cheese, deviled ham with pimiento, watercress
cucumber soup with sour cream
stuffed with shrimp salad
slices of chicken or ham with cold asparagus vinaigrette
orange shell filled with berries
salad with celery, nuts, raisins in a ring mold
trifle in a crystal bowl: layers of pound cake, vanilla pudding,
raspberry jam & whipped topping
punch with block of ice floating
Simple Picnic for Two
an enormous lunch before the Gatsby
a basket of cake, strawberries and champagne
a basket of one thing to share, such as home-baked cookies
or bottles of wine
with friends, sample their picnics
to help clean up, pack up, cart out their things