Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Thank You Madame, for a Delightful Afternoon in the Country

{Editor’s Note: WARNING! Strong Language}

“Withnail & I” is, of course, the litmus test for disastrous happenings out of town. OK, our little visit to the country did have Mrs. E. hyperventilating, but once we hit major roads and generous expanses of concrete and cell reception she was just fine. So, it was with mixed feelings that we hit the road today to visit a lovely-in-all-ways colleague of Mrs. E.’s: Madame. We took along the children as the purpose of the afternoon was to show them vast rolling fields, a lake and that sort of thing. We were also accompanied by another delightful friend and colleague who is, arguably, even more citified than we. I’m sorry I didn’t take a video camera.

The afternoon was fine — no surprise. The children ventured onto the huge expanse of rolling lawn that sloped down to the lake and then retreated inside after an interlude playing on the rather long asphalt driveway. You can take the children out of the city… And there was an incident with a massive German Shepherd from next door, but we chased him away after our hostess’ son ditched the bike and played dead.

Our hostess is a very civilised woman and is always welcome with great glee to any gathering. It was a pleasure to sit at her table and enjoy…

The Easy and Elegant Life’s Perfect Southern Summer Luncheon Menu
A basket of bread
Chicken Salad with raisins and nuts
Deviled Eggs
Plate of Crudités — or would you call it a relish tray? Red Pepper strips, crackers, carrots, cheddar cheese slices, apple slices
Pitchers of Lemonade, Tea and (ice cold well) Water (the bubble was consumed before the meal to fortify us for the sojourn into the wild.)
“Aunt Edna’s Lemon” Meringue Pie (very possibly the best I’ve ever had.)

When it gets hot, there are a few staples that should be packed up for a trip or served family style in the afternoon. It simply isn’t summer without deviled eggs or chicken salad. And for that road trip? Cold Southern Fried Chicken.

Because not one of us wishes to suffer as Withnail and I did… wouldn’t you rather picnic after a drive in the country this way; we used to did you? Leg or a breast?

7 thoughts on “Thank You Madame, for a Delightful Afternoon in the Country

  1. I am rarely the first to post a response, as I usually take a look at blogs in what could be considered by some to be the middle of the night (unfortunately experiencing those mid-life issues with insomnia). But here goes–the view from the roadster above is quite possibly one of the best views anywhere in the entire world. Haven’t seen the movie in a few years, but is it Italy??–possibly overlooking Lago Como?? Wherever it is, it is just glorious, and good for them for having the sense to pack a picnic–in a cute wicker basket, no less–and pausing to savor life. Life is better in a sleeveless waisted dress and a jacket w/ascot. We didn’t have a roaster, but we did drive the cliff-hanging, winding roads around Lago Como, and we had the kids in the back seat. I regret that it was probably the first time they heard their mother use profanities! Yikes! Those roads were frightening, and my dear husband was attempting to drive like a local. I made a concerted effort to plan a travel wardrobe for the family, although my husband does not own an ascot. What a great, sweet memory! The word ‘icon’ has been thrown about a lot lately, but Grace Kelly and Cary Grant were the real deal (I also happen to think MJ was, too). Thanks for the prompt to write this little essay–! And is there any chance you can get that recipe for the Lemon Meringue Pie??

  2. Hello Paula, I’ll try for the recipe. It’s above the French Riviera. I believe Nice, but could be Menton, Cannes, even Monte Carlo, or anywhere. It was 50 years ago before the sprawl.

  3. What a woman !- I love the white gloves she wears for driving. And what a pretty car too! A Sunbeam Alpine I think.

  4. It is a Sunbeam. Could a had ’em for a song 5 – 7 years ago and then the converts shot up in value. Not many good ones around due to the low values earlier but you can get a fixed head coupe for around $10,000 the last time I looked. White with a red leather interior is the one for me.

  5. Withnail & I is one of the greatest road trip movies of all time. I often use a quote from the following scene when dealing with an unhelpful sommelier: “We want the finest wines available to humanity. We want them here, and we want them now!”

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