One of the best things I enjoy about visiting a hot country is being able to eat outside, writes Tracy Hargreaves
The phrase al fresco is borrowed from Italian for ‘in the cool air’, although it is not in current use, we tend to refer to it as dining outside.
For Europeans, this is commonplace. It’s a time when families gather together, people share the cooking and everyone catches up on the day’s activities.
For us in the UK, warm days and evenings are few and far between, and usually means being bitten by midges, but eating outside doesn’t necessarily just mean barbecues.
For me the best time of day to eat outside is breakfast. When the sun is warming up and the birds are still singing, there’s nothing more enjoyable than eating croissants and drinking coffee in the garden, whilst reading the morning papers. It’s just so relaxing.
Lunch is a family affair. I usually invite everyone round and keep it simple, buffet style or just pizzas are great. Use plastic cutlery and plates to save on the washing up and throw in the odd garden game as well to keep everyone entertained.
If you work in an office all day, it’s important to get out and have a break. Instead of eating at your desk, take a packed lunch and find a bench in a local park or office courtyard. Many organisations are providing outside space to sit and eat as they are recognising the many wellbeing benefits for their staff. You’ll notice when you return, you’ll feel much better and be more productive for the rest of the day. Taking lunch outside is a natural mood booster.
Take the kids for a picnic. It’s a great opportunity to get them involved by letting them choose what they want to eat, then packing the picnic basket. They will love being with nature and I’ve always found that food seems to taste nicer outside.
Many restaurants have now invested in outdoor dining areas, which also have patio heaters in case it gets chilly, or roof top terraces where you can sit and soak up the scenery as well as enjoy that favourite past time of mine, people watching.
Eating outdoors is good for your health. If you don’t have a garden, there are numerous places around the region where you can sit outside or even take your own barbecues. So even if it’s not totally tropical, give it a whirl, and make the most of the sunshine when we have it.