Concertgoers at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts outside Washington, D.C. have taken their picnics seriously ever since the park officially opened in 1971. The Wolf Trap Picnic Cookbook (1976) details all the sumptuous dishes that people brought to the lawn of what was once founder Catherine Filene Shouse’s private home. A group of early Wolf Trap “associates and aficionados” contributed their favorite fare to the book. This group was likely to furnish their folding tables with linens, silver and candles, but their recipes, mostly based on fresh ingredients, sound surprisingly up to date: Persian Rice Salad, Deluxe Curried Chicken Salad, Easy Ratatouille. Desserts go from Strawberries Romanoff to Chocolate Chip Picnic Cake.
The Fresh Herb Dip from the book served me well when I attended a much less glorious event, a pop-up picnic in a neighborhood parking lot. I snipped fresh chives, parsley and dill from my garden, mixed in sour cream and yogurt, and I was ready to go. Dancing on the asphalt to accordion music couldn’t compare to lying under the stars, listening to a symphony, but it was fun to transport the book’s gourmet sensibility to another place entirely and make it work.
Fresh Herb Dip (1976)
Makes 1 cup
1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh minced chives
1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley
1 tablespoon fresh minced dill
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Thoroughly mix together all ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate. Serve as a dip with raw vegetables.