The first rule of the Portland Picnic Society: Don't step on the deviled eggs. Beyond that, pretty much anything goes.
"Throwing a picnic isn't about having a perfect day," says club co-founder and cookbook author Andrea Slonecker. "Wine gets spilled. Someone forgets to bring the food. It's about all the fun things that can happen."
The PPS--really, it's an actual thing, with an actual website--was founded a couple years back by a bunch of friends who all work in some area of the thriving Portland food scene.
"One night we were drinking wine and talking about how we don't see each other enough. Then it hit us," Slonecker says. "Let's start a picnic club!"
Despite a rocky first outing--which involved a too-close tightrope walker and a noisy nearby family reunion--the potluck posse was not deterred (and now smartly sends a member to the site early to stake out a good spot).
The society has grown to a monthly event with a membership of about 15--all women so far, and all accomplished picnic cooks eager to share their recipes for jambon persillé, rich pork rillettes, salads packed into Mason jars, and other extremely cute edibles.
The members decide on a theme beforehand so that the menu is cohesive and balanced, and--major cuteness alert--each member brings her own plate, glass and fork, an idea we'll be putting to use at our next grassy gathering.
Apparently, we weren't the only ones smitten by the PSS. After Sunset Magazine published a feature story on the society in May, interest in the club spread. "People from all over--Austin, San Francisco, Omaha--started emailing us wanting to know how to start their own club," says Slonecker, sounding slightly amazed at the interest.
Our plates are ready. Now we're just waiting for that invitation to arrive.