As an integral part of the tour experience we provide, we like to treat our guests to a high quality, delicious and rejuvenating picnic break that not only ties in with our mission of supporting and promoting sustainability and connection with the land, but also helps us build better connections with our guests, and generates a chance for us to really get to know people as individuals through the humble power of sharing food and drink. We decided it would be more than suitable to create this blog especially during this time of lockdown, when small businesses such as the ones we promote through our walks need support more than ever. These difficult times have been challenging for all of us, so we would like to speak more about the foods we choose to share with our guests and the purpose of having such a picnic during our tours. And who knows – perhaps after reading this blog you might find yourself looking to purchase some of the wonderful products these fantastic businesses provide! You can find all of them elsewhere on our website, but I will be sure to post links to their websites at the bottom of this blog.
A younger me in the kitchen enjoying fresh oysters with my mum and brother back in Canada
Growing up, I have always had a great relationship with food thanks to my family. My mother, being Italian, greatly influenced how I view food right from when I was young. As kids, we always were in the kitchen helping my mother make food (whether we liked it or not!); be it simply helping her put dinner together, or having whole multi-day events making homemade sausages from scratch. As a family, we've always used food – both cooking and actually eating – as a way of bonding. It was always important to eat together as a family, and I have definitely have carried this sentiment forward into adulthood. So when Ashley and I were trying to figure out how to really connect to our guests in a more personalised way and show them ways of connecting them to the land they’ve come to learn about, we immediately thought of food; particularly the locally produced foods we have come to love since moving to Suffolk.
Out in the wild, it is common for social animals to build their social structures around the sharing of food and it is used as a way of strengthening relationships within the group. As people, we can’t help but follow suit. It's amazing the amount of comfort, connection and common understanding that can be gained through simply breaking bread and having a drink with one another. The food break of our tour is when we really get to know our guests and end up having some of the most wonderful and insightful conversations with one another, which is something we always look forward to. We have even comfortably discussed some quite controversial topics with guests over lunch, such as plant-based vs animal-based diets, ethical farming practices, and hunting. Yet in the presence of a delicious meal, we get to really share our own ideas and thoughts, and come away with a greater sense of feeling like we have had a real connection with diverse people.
This is what you can expect your packed lunch to look like when you come on tour!
Another reason why we especially like to serve our guests a packed lunch and a hot drink is the fact that it is simply a nice break to have during what can be a fairly long walk. During my time spent in South Africa, we always split up our long game drives with a quick snack and a coffee or tea. Mind you, the food definitely wasn't as luxurious as what you see here! Regardless, it's amazing how far just a bit of food can go when you are out in the wilderness with the elements and feeling tired and weary. Without fail, our guests always comment on how refreshed they feel after our short food break, and we never fail to notice it ourselves.
Besides all of that, we mainly serve our guests packed lunches for the impact that it can have on really reconnecting folks back to the land and to the community. The foods we select have each been very carefully thought through and sourced locally, with the intent of sharing with others our view of how we can commit to living sustainably and mindfully through our d