Ratty's Picnic

Amazing food descriptions abound in Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows, but perhaps the most memorable one of all concerns a picnic shared by the loveable homebody Ratty and a stranger he meets on the road—a French wayfaring rat called “the seafarer,” who spends his life on boats and the ports they stop at. Utterly spellbound by the seafarer’s descriptions of his adventurous life, Ratty snaps out of it long enough to remember that his companion had earlier in the conversation mentioned his hunger. The ever-gracious animal suggests a picnic, and hurries off to his hole on the riverbank to gather a few provisions.
There he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger’s origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask containing bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes. Thus laden, he returned with all speed, and blushed for pleasure at the old seaman’s commendations of his taste and judgment, as together they unpacked the basket and laid out the contents on the grass by the roadside.
Illustration by Paul Bransom

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"Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead." —W. H. Auden