Pretend du Pique Nique

So, I had heard about a pop-up picnic set-up through Lotte Large via the medium of Facebook, and thought it was a curious thing, so I went on the opening day last Saturday to check it out.

I went alone, as everyone else was busy doing something else (such is London), but it was perfectly fine.  Since the Cafe du Pique-Nique would only be going on for a week, and since this week is a busy one for me, I figured if I was going to go, it was best to go on the opening day when I had time then on the very last day, when a bunch of other people who had missed the subsequent days were saying to themselves, “OMG!  Today’s the last day, I’d better go!”

Well, let me begin by saying that I went to the Future Gallery in Soho and there was a small queue to get in, so I stood in line.  After watching a few people had left the premises and a few people from the queue had gotten in, a young woman who was working at the Cafe du Pique-Nique came out to inform the seven of us or so in the little line that it looked like it would be about thirty minutes before they would have room for people, because it was so full.

This statement discouraged the folks waiting behind me, but not the woman nor the gentleman waiting in front of me.  The lady and I both had come on our own, and the gent was waiting for someone else anyway, so we all didn’t mind the wait much.  Plus, what was projected to be a thirty-minute wait actually manifested into only a ten-minute wait, if that.  Patience is a virtue.  It helped to be by myself, in this case, as I don’t know if anyone I would have brought would have been keen on waiting, and plus going by yourself as opposed to with a big group of people meant less space had to be free in order to accommodate you.  Although I have gained a wee bit of weight recently (nothing wrong with it), I’m still a relatively petite person who doesn’t need much space to sit and eat a sandwich with a book in the other hand.

When entering into the building, I placed an order for a roasted pepper and hummus sandwich and a chocolate muffin, costing me just a little over £4.  Drinks were purchased separately, and after securing a nice spot on a large blanket near the wall (as the fake grass was rather prickly), I got a bottle of ginger beer for £3.  Other drinks were available when I went there, and I was tempted to try some of the punch, but I changed my mind.  Last time I drank hard liquor without any friends around I sort of got myself into a bit of a pickle.

The venue itself is interesting: a room with fake grass and trees plunked down to mimic the outdoors, but instead of playing birds chirping in the background or any other nature sounds, I could hear the ambient noise of Vampire Weekend’s first album.  People mostly in the 20-something/early 30-something range were all around me, as it was quite crowded.  And what was amazing to me is that people were completely acting the part of pic-nicers, despite being on very prickly fake grass and being indoors.  Couples were lounging with one’s head in the other’s lap, groups of friends were passing around bags of crisps (or chips, if you’re from North America), people were talking and chatting, lovers were making eyes at each other as they drank out of teacups filled with alcoholic punch.

It was all very postmodern, really.

I received my little meal in a small basket, but bigger meals were served in larger picnic baskets delivered by the staff, one of whom was dressed as a wasp at some point.  I should say the staff were really friendly and nice, and should be commended for pulling together such an event.  I’d be curious to see what else they might come up with throughout the year.  Fake pool parties?  Fake outdoor barbecues?  There are possibilities here.

All in all, it was a cute and quirky event which should appeal if you like cute and quirky.  My friends Constance and Elisa from my Food programme went the following day, and told me how much they enjoyed Cafe du Pique-Nique as well, even though there not being any films screened (despite the statement in the program) and that the coordinators had run out of food.  If you’re interested in going, Cafe du Pique-Nique will have its last day on the 20th, which is this Saturday, so get there soon.  You can apparently make reservations if you contact them beforehand, but don’t hold me to that claim–I had only heard one of the members of the staff tell this to the woman in the queue in front of me.  Still, it might be recommended to try if you don’t wish to wait in a queue.

Anyway, with the weather in London starting to turn into something that, by George, might just be spring, hopefully I can go on a real picnic with friends sometime soon.  My Food course already has a planned picnic in May, and it would be nice to add to this list.


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