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Fire It Up! Meat-Free Grilling at the Cookout

Food & Drink, Picnics & BBQs No Comments »

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Having lived most of my life in Brazil, I have come to really cherish the few warm months of late spring and summer, when I (sort of) relive those tropical days by lazing away on the beach, attending outdoor concerts, having picnics in the park and, of course, grilling—anyone who has been in Texas de Brazil or Fogo de Chão understands the deep relationship people there have with the grill.

I am not, however, your average griller, since I do not go to the nearest market for hot dogs or hamburger patties. For starters, I “retired” from red meat years ago (though I do eat poultry and fish), so when we barbecue I often bring stuff that leaves my meat-loving friends scratching their heads—that is, until they taste the final result. Read the rest of this entry »

Basket Case: Relaxing over a slapdash picnic

Picnics & BBQs No Comments »

By Keir Graff

If you’re like me, the last meal you ate outside was a hamburger. Seated on a wall, the carry-out bag ripped open to accommodate the spill of fries, red dots of ketchup slowly gluing bag to cement. The Coke cup anchoring the whole raft against a steady, chill spring wind. In five or ten minutes you snarfed the lot down, balled and deposited the trash, and were on your way to the next engagement. Hardly a picnic.

Picnics are a dying art. Like drive-in movies, the other American summer pastime, we lament them but don’t do them. Convenience is all, and each generation loses a portion of the genes or training that allowed our elders the patience necessary to organize an outing. I’ve seen snapshots of a picnic my young parents had, in the sixties: in the woods, perched on a boulder, a group of clean-shaven, short-sheared Youth Fellowship types clowning around, looks of delight unmistakable. They had guitars and wine, for crying out loud.

Picnics, when mentioned, seem to bring a distant gleam to the eye, and a faint, noncommittal, “That’d be fun.” Perhaps it’s visions of Victorian garden parties, replete with games, semi-formal wear and intricately executed dainties on silver trays that scares people off. Could it be that, in spite of popular metaphor, a picnic is no picnic? Read the rest of this entry »

Picnic Paradises

Parks & the Great Outdoors, Picnics & BBQs No Comments »

For summer’s first al fresco meal you may have carefully chosen the thickest peanut butter, the sweetest jelly, the freshest bread and the coldest beer. But if you haven’t put as much thought into the site of your outing, you may find yourself left with little more than sticky fingers, a sore butt, and a headache from all that squinting. Luckily, as a public service for Chicago’s picnickers, the Newcity investigative team scoured the metropolis for the most appealing spots to roll out your red-and-white checks and pull up an Igloo. Read the rest of this entry »