The definitive ranking of picnic snacks
According to me, this is THE ranking of picnic snacks. Or, all the ones I could think of...
Summer is here, the time is right for picnics but what do you pack in your hamper? Well, if you're pinched on space, here is a handy list on what to pic (Ed: either improve the puns, or stop) and what not to.
18 - Olives
I mean, they aren't terrible. I like a good olive. Stuff it with cheese and it gets better, but generally these little snacks are the pits on this list. Get it, pits, pitted?
We have to start somewhere.
17 - Nachos and Dips
Before you start shouting at me, there's some strong contributions on this list, so nachos, chips and dips are low ranking. Flexible, and adaptable, with flavours varying in both the nacho and the dip, from hummus to tzatziki or Thousand Island Dressing, or do you call it straight and go for a salsa and guac, there is something here to suit everyone.
Classic but risk being a little dull...
16 - Salad
A surprisingly high ranking for salad here. I would have put it lower, but done well, a salad can be good. Chicken Caesar, tuna, a spicy dressing, some interesting vegetables, you can get a good salad. Or if its just some lettuce in a bowl with no options for dressing it up, this would quickly drop down the ranks.
Chuck cheese at a salad and its a banger. Chuck raisins at it and chuck it in the bin.
15 - Pasta Salad
Some foods work cold, like custard, roast chicken and sausages. Pasta just about falls into this category and mix it with enough vegetables it technically becomes a salad. Typically sauce filled with fun nuggets of chicken, bacon, prawn, what ever you want lobbed in this is a salad, but a good salad.
Salad 2.0: greens but make it good.
14 - Crisps
I can hear you wail, why are crisps so low on this list? You can have crisps on a normal lunch, so they aren't hugely special when they appear at a picnic. Yes you can fancy it up with a brand you don't usually get or a flavour you don't usually get (BBQ Pringles for me?), but still crisps is crisps innit?
Sour cream and chive? Why does that strike me as a picnic flavour?
13 - Corn on the Cob
Hear me out, I love a good corn-cob. Really nice sweet corn, on a small hand sized cob, lightly salted makes for a brilliant snack at a picnic. Bonus points if you can get them to the picnic while still warm. Oh yes.
Lightly buttered with a sprig of dill in there. MMMmmm.
12 - Quiche
Like many of the choices on this list, this can be adapted to taste and choice. So many varieties of quiche filling (is that the right bit?) on a perfect pastry base. Bangin'. But the grid is getting to be a tough competition so 12th is as good as the eggy tart does.
Sweet and spiced peppers, spring onions, and flaked bacon - my ideal quiche filling.
11 - Potato Salad
A high ranking salad, purely here for its creaminess. I love a creamy dish and I have a distinct memory of a Clarkson column on potato salad which sparked my love for the dish. Add in a peppery twist, and a zest of lime for a bold and brilliant dish. Oh yes.
Simple yet special, imho.
10 - Cornbread Muffins
Forgive me for coming over all American, but I really like cornbread muffins. There's a recipe floating around at home that churns out excellent cornbread muffins. Bready, sweet, perfect for mopping up sauces, spreads, pickles, chutneys, or pairing with cold meats and cheese they can do it all. An excellent way to start the top 10!
GET IN MY BELLY!
9 - Jerky
Another odd choice, but if you want something to snack on before you unpack the snacks and picnic itself jerky is a good choice. Variable in its spice and dried meat choice (biltong for me, a really peppery biltong) it is a perfect way to work up a thirst for some picnic drinks.
That texture, that peppery flaking.
8 - Mini pasties or empanadas
An odd choice making it into the top 10, the mini pasty. I think half the appeal here is just in their smallness. Otherwise it was a half filled pasty with a claggy pastry. But its small and that, in my eyes, earns points and the rank of 8th. Fight me in the comments. Special nod to empanadas here for being a better version of mini pasties and majorly glossed over in traditional UK picnics.
Once you've had a good empanada, that sticks with you.
7 - Cheese and Onion Roll
Do these still exist? I remember these from my childhood (Ed: wasn't that only a decade ago?) as being tangy with a cheese in them like no other, and the crunchy bite of raw onion folded into a little puff pastry package. I liked that snap of tart onion in their palate and would happily munch through a great many of them while huddled under an anorak at whatever godforsaken drizzly National Trust site I'd been dragged off to. Picnics aren't always sunny kids!
The vegetarian's sausage roll, until Greggs came along and upset the apple cart.
6 - Coleslaw
Again with the creamy stuff, but now with added crunch. I just love coleslaw, sue me. Finely sliced vegetables with varying flavours, sweet carrot, a bitter twist from the cabbage, it is all there. A direct rival to the potato salad, but better. A worthy winner for 6th place.
Colour, crunch, cream. It is all in coleslaw!
5 - Sausage Roll
Seeing us into the top five we have the sausage roll. Either the big ole Greggs length ones, or the tiny ones you get in the tub for sharing these are a cornerstone of the picnic hamper and are fairly variable if you make them at home? Chorizo sausage rolls? ABSOLUTE BANGERS MATE! Pigs in blankets in pasty? URGH GEMS! But the fight gets tough, so fifth is all the sausage roll can achieve.
The competition is getting serious now.
4 - Cocktail Sausage
The humble cocktail sausage. Sweet, and robust. Easily wolfable. A firm favourite of my late dog. Is it a picnic if you don't have these? Yes, but it's a terrible picnic. Outranks the sausage roll on it's simplicity basis which sometimes is what you need? No crumbs, no mess. Ideal for when it's tipping it down and you are having your picnic in the car.
Food on a stick? Fancy. Make you picnic a classy affair by including tiny little wooden javelins.
3 - Fried Chicken
Again, I'm sorry for sounding like a bit of a cowboy, but fried chicken on a picnic is something special indeed. A rare food item at home, it is a special thing indeed when I do have it. Novelty can only get you so far though, and fried chicken benefits from having a beautiful array of textures, from a perfectly crunchy exterior to a moist interior with a smokey BBQ sauce this can be a gem to tuck into. Plus it's a picnic, you're eating with your hands, you can really get into a plate of wings in this scenario!
"Alexa, play Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band"
2 - Scotch Egg
I wish I was lying when I said it was only earlier this year when I first had a scotch egg. And let me tell you, it was life altering. Oh boy. The blend of textures, tastes and the fact that the one I'd bought from the butchers was the size of a baseball meant that I was well sated upon completion. Smaller scotch eggs are perfect for tossing into your mouth while you load up your plate with more goodies, a small stopgap between refills, perfectly portioned. A well earned number two.
Tell me that that isn't mouthwatering.
And in at number one!
1 - The Pork Pie
I drive my car on a 150 mile round trip to get it serviced each year. There's a dealership far far closer, but I go out of my way to take it to the one where I bought it from because it is in the market town of Melton Mowbray. Home of the pork pie. I am besotted with these culinary creations. Edward Adcock is a deity to me, as much like the Lord God Almighty he has bequeathed us with the manna that is the pork pie. A glossy, hot water crust pastry, encapsulating a cushion of jellied pork stock, protecting a perfect formation of pork parts. Serve out mini ones or cut up a big one at a picnic and you have created perfection in my eyes.
Is there a more beautiful sight?
But hang on, maybe I'm wrong? What order would you put these snacks in? What did I miss? What just doesn't belong on the list at all? Let me know in the comments.