This is blog #1 on this, and I'm totally intimidated. I want to blog about the English language, and I really know zip about it, despite having spoken it for nearly 70 years. Still, what the hey...it's the language I know and love, so here goes.
I want to look at a word that's really big today on July 4, our nation's birthday. The word is "picnic." I went to a picnic this afternoon at the invitation of Rosalie, who was celebrating her new U.S. citizenship. The picnic was held at Fort Washington Park in Maryland, and I got lost en route. Cathy came with me and asked if I had the directions. I said, "Sure...in my head." Ha.
After driving around for an hour and a half, Cathy (!) (you can see who the adult is in this cabal) noticed we were running low on gas. We stopped for gas and asked a very nice fellow how to get to MD Highway 210 and thence to Fort Washington Park. He told us, showed us a shortcut, and tada! We arrived!
Anyway, here are my thoughts on the word "picnic." PICNIC comes from the French word "pique-nique." Here's what www.arts-culinaires.com says about "picnic," translated from the French:
"If, as of the arrival of the beautiful days, you test an irresistible desire for eating outside, with the sun or the moonlight, the picnic is for you. It is appropriate for all those which want freedom to leave on their premises. It can be the occasion to find a great number of people, without needing to spend the hours to arrange your house and to make the crockery.
"Envy user-friendliness, of division or quite simply to take the air, invite your friends or your family for a picnic.
"For that, nothing simpler: isothermal tablecloths or covers, refrigerators or bags, crockery out of paperboard, glasses, forks and spoons and especially of food easy to transport and eat.
Do not forget the coffee thermos flask and the hot water thermos flask for the followers of the tea.
"There is no age to appreciate a picnic and even the very young children will be able to make their nap in the shade in poussette."
Regarding the origin of the word "picnic," Bibliographic instruction and reference librarian Ted Nesbitt says on www.allexperts.com:
"The English word [first introduced in our language in 1748] is from the French "pique-nique." "Pique" comes from the French verb, "piquer," meaning "to pick." The "nique" actually means "little pieces." Thus, to the French, a "pique-nique" was a meal in which little pieces were picked. Instead of a lavish banquet or a seven-course dinner, a pique-nique was a small kind of meal in which people could choose their own "little pieces."
"The English simply adopted the phrase, dropping the "ue" endings and changing each "q" to a "c."
Well, I think so, too.
The people at the picnic this afternoon were mostly from the Philippines. On the dessert table, there were three kinds of of cake made from casava which involved a lot of pounding and scraping of the casava root. One was a lot like flan, and t'other a lot like upsidedown cake minus the cake part (are you following me?), and the third was all of that plus peaches. All were delicious. I brought brownies, but I should have left them at home. I didn't have any mascarpone so i just used cream cheese instead. Wrong! I should have used cottage cheese or cream cheese+sour cream+whipped cream. As a result, the brownies were a bit dry.
After we finally arrived, Edmar, Rosalie's husband, handed each of us a skewer with barbequed pork on it. Rather than being soaked with smokey red BBQ sauce, the pork was flavored with Adobo seasoning (with which I am familiar from my frequent attempts at frying tofu), and it was quite delicious. There also were two big pots of shark fin soup, a huge container of green salad, several rice cookers, and many large dishes of various veggies, the likes of which I had never seen before but which tasted very good.
The people at the picnic all belonged to a church which caters to the DC area Philippino population. I have never belonged to a church that had picnics. The Friends Meeting of Washington (where I am a lapsed attender) does not seem to go in for picnics, per se. We have lots of book sales, rummage sales, and retreats but no picnics. I told Cathy that I would join a church if it had picnics. Well....that's maybe a lie. I'd go for the picnics, anyway. None of my religions has ever been much fun.
Meanwhile, I shall continue to search for new insights into "picnic." Webster's New Collegiate (the old one, the one with all the colleges in it) says "pique" also can mean "savoury" in French. No matter how many little pieces are involved, what's a picnic if it isn't savoury?