The bottomless picnic basket

When most Americans think of Iran, it's usually in the context of some unpleasant news. So it was an eye-opener to me to read that picnics in the park play an important role in the life of families in Tehran. (See page 13.)

A big fan of picnics myself, I feel a sense of kinship with fellow picnickers everywhere. That's true whether they pack an American feast of deviled eggs, fried chicken, and apple pie, or chicken in a pomegranate sauce with walnuts, as an Iranian family might.

My parents owned a large wooden picnic basket that resided in the basement, ever ready to be pressed into service for a jaunt to the country or the nearest park.

It was filled to the brim with cups, plates, silverware, bowls, assorted containers with lids, napkins, insect repellent....

As a child, I felt that the basket must be bottomless, because whenever my parents reached into it, they pulled out whatever was needed for an alfresco meal - be it a paring knife to slice a ripe tomato, a drinking straw, or a big bowl of Mom's macaroni salad.

It was toted to lakes and beaches, mountain pathways, and roadside fields filled with wildflowers. It even went along on a couple of my dates with the man who became my husband. I figured he must be a pretty good guy if he appreciated picnics as much as I did.

Hmmm. I'm getting hungry. Wonder what my husband's doing for lunch? Maybe we'll pull the picnic hamper from the closet shelf, pack a few ham sandwiches, pull some brownies from the freezer, and head for the nearest park.

All in the interest of international understanding, of course.

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