Over the years eating has become so much more than just a quick sandwich. From the playtime squidging of food (I still think it tastes better when you play with it first) as a small kid, to modern crazes such as dining in the pitch black and markedly curious surroundings such our gourmet dinner on the tube, there is a real explosion of using all the senses to experience a meal - or is there? Is it all in our heads?
Well, I'm going to tell you a secret, but shhhhh you mustn't tell any one else. A few weeks ago, a veritable swathe of white festooned picnickers met in several pre-arranged and covert rendezvous points around the great city of London. Welcome to Diner en Blanc.
An exercise in psychology, the reactions from
strangers were curiously exhilarating. On my own whilst on the way to the rendezvous point, dressed head to toe in a carefully selected outfit
(read: cobbled together in a rushed shopping trip the night before due
to a delivery failure) in white from top to toe, I was getting quite
frankly curious stares (and that is saying something in London where
I've seen men in head to toe neon pink get barely a glance...). As I
neared the meeting point and saw fellow diners, the idea that this was an intricate prank
faded away, to be replaced with relief. And excitement. And hunger.
After making our way to Diner en Blanc HQ (this year near Kings Cross), we set up our table, unpacked our spoils (fairylights, flowers, beautiful cutlery and wine stems) and marveled at the simple grace of a monochromatic colour scheme. The lengths participants had gone to was breathtaking; ornate lace sheath dresses, white formal suits, top hats, shawls, mini dresses, incredibly voluptuous feathered hats, teeny fascinators, cricket jumpers - you name it, it was there somewhere. 1,200 picnic goers and not a shade darker than cream adorned our outfits.
My photos of the evening are admittedly horrific; I was too busy taking the atmosphere in. The atmosphere had a gentle hubbub of excited chatter, the sparkle of elegant candelabras and quiet beauty of beautiful flowers. Each table reflected the owners and the effort they had gone to - some with effusive sparkles, some with subtle twisting arrangements, some with feather fairylights they picked up at *ahem* the last moment.
In the midst of the fun we managed the essentials - a salute to missing friends, a veritable feast of of picnic treats and a heck of a lot of giggling (not to mention a fair few travel stories) passed around the table.
We simply enjoyed ourselves, each others company and the occasional foray into the crowds of dancing picnickers. The mood was secretively ebullient under crane lights and in the shadow of nearby apartment buildings.
We began by elegantly waving napkins in the air...
...and finished frantically fizzing sparklers.
... managing a few grooves here and there (seriously, the Blue Jays were a terrific rockabilly band) despite the cold, cold evening.
I'm not going to tell you who made up our party, they're delicious ladies all, but I'm going to let them tell their own stories in their own time, the other side of the table if you will.
I'm already planning for next year...