Good Food Blog
Keep it indoorsPosted at 12:02PM, 11 August 2008 by Stuart Walton - Food and wine writer
Holly Jones's thoughts on the pointlessness of barbecue eating are sentiments this Grumpy Old Foodie wholeheartedly endorses. Why is eating one cindered sausage every 45 minutes meant to be fun? When Holly protests, though, that she loves any other form of al fresco eating, then we part company. I'll leave her sitting in the sun with her impeccably chilled rosé. I'm staying put.
It's the dogged whatever-the-weather quality of outdoor dining that's so offputting. Just as the sight of a bit of sun has every man in Britain changing into a pair of knee-length shorts that they won't discard until the end of October, so the start of the balmy weather makes normally sane people rediscover their inner Neanderthal.
What fun to sit in the garden for breakfast, wafting flies away from the marmalade while the sun beats down on your hangover. How lovely to take a chiller bag down to the beach and let the sea breeze blow sand into the salad.
Better still, drive out into the country with a picnic blanket, something faintly resembling a hamper, but carefully leaving the sense you were born with back at home, and spend a merry afternoon juggling paper plates and plastic cutlery, trying to persuade a wine glass to balance on the grass as you inelegantly attempt to slice a wedge of quiche while sitting cross-legged.
The thing about civilisation is, we don't have to do this anymore. We can eat in comfort and convenience at those items of furniture called tables. It's what they were made for, you know. We aren't nomadic hunter-gatherers any longer, foraging for what we can find in the great outdoors, tearing into shared carcasses around a savage campfire. We live in homes fitted with all the modern amenities we need, such as kitchens, flushing toilets and ceilings over our heads.
Saddest of all are the outbreaks of tables outside cafés and bars in our city centres
Saddest of all are the outbreaks of tables outside cafés and bars in our city centres. Sitting on a narrow strip of London pavement a couple of feet away from the choking fumes of the Soho gridlock a few years back, I asked my companion why we were doing this. It wasn't in any way appealing. It was a beastly torment. The weather wasn't even that nice. It apparently reminded us that London is a dynamic European city. Yeah, and I'm King Farouk.
My message of hope to all Britons is: Don't eat outside! Nobody can make you do it!