THE ART OF THE PICNIC
Kababs at the Parc Angrignon
Nestled in Le Sud-Ouest, Parc Angrignon is one of large urban parks in Montréal. In addition to its bucolic charm, it has a major asset: There are barbecue grills attached to the ground every 150 feet.
In a setting that is worthy of English gardens of the 19th century, the Parc Angrignon extends over 96 hectares, with a forest of 20,000 trees and a pond surrounded by weeping willows, irises and cattails. These two Iranian families often visit this green oasis, and below they share with us their favourite recipes for a perfect cookout!
The Salehis’ skewered fish
The Salehi family, originally from Iran, has lived in Montréal for the past two years. They love to enjoy a picnic at the Parc Angrignon.
“In Ispahan, our home had a garden. We don’t have one in our little home in Côte-Saint-Luc,” said Reza..
With his wife, Akram, and their 11-year-old twins, Taha and Yasin, they love to spend Sunday afternoons at the parc. The boys love to bike along the park’s paths.
The Salehi’s favourite cookout menu is skewered chicken or fish. Ideally white fish, marinated in advance for two hours, accompanied by tomatoes and onions, seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked in aluminum foil.
“You have to grill the foil packets in the flames and turn the fish several times so it doesn’t burn,” said Reza. This dish is often served with rice and pita bread on the side, he added.
Ali and Fare’s jujeh kabab
The Salehis often meet other Iranian friends at the park, like Ali and Fare and their families. According to Fare, the best recipe for a good picnic is jujeh kabab, skewered chicken that is marinated overnight in a blend of garlic powder, saffron, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and a little yogurt, to keep the meat juicy. You can also marinate onions and peppers before grilling on separate skewers. Jujeh kabab are served with rice, pita bread or chapati, a traditional unleavened bread.
Mr. Salehi suggests bergamot tea (Iran’s national drink) or beer to accompany the meal. And, just like in Iran, the meal wouldn’t be complete without juicy watermelon for dessert.
Provence in the air at the Parc La Fontaine
Jenny Viotte left France 13 years ago for Montréal, and each year, she celebrates the anniversary of her arrival in the Parc Lafontaine.
“It’s become a tradition,” she explained.“If the weather is nice, we meet up andeveryone brings something to eat and drink, and we talk about the passage of time.”
A lot has changed since Jenny arrived in Québec, but the Parc La Fontaine is still her favourite meeting place on sunny days.
“We have our favourite spot,” said the young mother, who is expecting a second child. “We always picnic in the same place, between the pétanque court and the tennis courts. It makes us feel at home. We see regulars, faces we know, musicians, acrobats, pétanque lovers...”
With her Belgian partner and their baby, Jenny likes to get together with expatriate friends for a picnic – sometimes spontaneous, sometimes with a theme.
“We might come up with an idea,” said Jenny. “Yellow, for example. So we’ll bring Ricard, potato salad, grilled yellow zucchini, quiche lorraine...” Other days, it’s an exotic brunch, grilled meats or a pétanque afternoon. “Everyone brings something and we share the meal together.”
Other days, it’s an exotic brunch, grilled meats or a pétanque afternoon.
“Everyone brings something and we share the meal together.”Of course, there’s usually saucisson, cheese and baguettes. “I like to get the baguette from La mie matinale on Ste-Catherine, near where we live,” said Jenny. “Next, we go together to Bleu & Persillé on Mont-Royal for the cheese and we take a detour onto Rachel for apple turnovers from Co’Pains d’abord.”
While the adults eat and talk, the little one sleeps in her tent.
“There’s a peacefulness that we don’t have in European parks,” said Jenny. “It’s peaceful, civilized – even when there are lots of people. People don’t get in each other’s way. The park belongs to everyone, and everyone respects everyone else.”
With the sunshine, the Ricard, the pétanque and the children’s laughter, you could almost believe that you’re in the South of France.
“But it’s better,” said Jenny. “We’re in Montréal!”