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The perfect picnic

When requests for suggestions for an Independence Day picnic menu started coming in, I got a little confused. We already had our Independence Day commemoration last month, so… Then, I realized that in the United States, this coming Sunday is the 4th of July. I’m not really familiar with 4th of July food traditions in the the States but for the Filipinos who call America their home and want to celebrate Independence Day with food that combines “global” with Filipino roots, here are some suggestions that should do perfectly for a picnic or a backyard barbecue.

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My idea of a picnic is simple. The food shouldn’t be complicated to cook, serve and eat. And they should be real crowd-pleasers. For example… Something grilled. The options are so many. Chicken is everyone’s favorite. There’s the beloved chicken inasal. Want something less ordinary? Chicken peri-peri or chicken satay are good ideas. Spicier? Try chicken tikka. Burger with a twist? There’s the Greek biftekia.

How about pasta? Mac and cheese, lasagna with meat sauce and baked mac can all be baked in large trays and served straight from the oven.

Salad goes well with anything grilled. I suggest Waldorf salad; chicken and macaroni salad; lettuce, quail eggs and pineapple salad; cucumber, chili and tomato salad; the very unassuming lettuce and egg salad; or, if you really want to go Asian, there’s kani salad and the Thai yum pla dook foo or crispy catfish and green mango salad.

Then, there’s dessert. I’d be happy with something as terribly good as cheesecake brownies but if you want more, serve a whole cake. Or cupcakes. Or a pie.

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I have to mention the classic — old-fashioned apple pie. Like cheesecake? Chocolate or coffee cheesecake are both good. Something irresistible to kids? Self-frosting Nutella cupcakes, zebra cake or rainbow cake. Something more adult? Rum cake with limoncello.

Whatever you decide on, if you’re the cook, remember not to be a kitchen slave. You want to enjoy the festivities and the company too. Prepare what you can and enjoy the day, or weekend, like everyone else.

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