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Bed Picnic

How Padma Lakshmi Helped Me Live Presently

Turkey bacon sandwich with avocado & tomato 

I first heard about bed picnic from Padma Lakshmi on a popular YouTube series called Hot Ones, a talk show with “hot questions and even hotter wings” hosted by Sean Evans. Lakshmi, an actress and author, is best known for being the long-serving host of the Bravo series, Top Chef. Less than two minutes into the interview, Sean asks Padma about “bed picnic.”

Padma proudly depicts an occasional ritual in which she wakes up, makes her bed, takes a shower, puts on a fresh pair of pajamas—these steps are crucial—and builds sandwiches piled high and neatly presented. Then, she comes back to bed and savors them while watching a favorite show. Padma embraces the decadence and explains that it is meant to be a joyful experience rather than gluttonous or shameful. As a foodie, it seemed like I had just learned the secret to happiness and I wanted to try it myself.

Life as Usual

Protein & Berry Platter

A few months passed, life had become hectic, and I had nearly forgotten about bed picnic. Work, pool (billiards) league, new classes, a new business, my wedding… I was burning out from the many things that I was juggling. I was disconnected from the present and stuck in all the things that I was doing because I was convinced that one day my life would be great.

On April 13, I got married and for that day, life was perfect, nothing else mattered. I could breathe a little easier, but by the end of the weekend, it was right back to business as usual. Plus, now is the time to build a marriage.

My husband and I mentioned the idea of having our own bed picnic back and forth to each other for a week or two but ultimately, it was an impromptu decision on a Friday morning that was coincidentally 420. We stopped by the bakery and market before returning home to complete the ritual.

The picnic menu was built on what looked good at the time. Generally, we choose not to shop that way to prevent impulse spending, but for this occasion, following our gut seemed to be the way to go. The preparation ritual sets the mood for the bed picnic. You prep your bed, body, and food with care and intention. You are intending to enjoy this meal and the comfort of your bed, and nothing more. We followed the ritual but were worried about making a mess in bed since our bedspread is mostly white. Therefore, it seemed wrong to eat directly on top of it, so after making the bed, we laid a brown comforter on top. It wasn’t clear from the interview if Padma picnics alone or not, but having a bed picnic with my husband was a bonding experience for us.

The Menu
Main: Turkey bacon, tomato and avocado sandwiches on baguette
Platters: Fresh rustic baguette slices, paté (for the Mr.), smoked salmon, Havarti cheese, tortilla chips, homemade pico de gallo, and peak of the season blueberries
Dessert: Milk chocolate toffee almond cookies

The Experience

Sandwiches & Tortilla Chips

We served the meal on platters right on top of the bedspread, with drinks bedside, no utensils, save a knife for the paté, and a few napkins. The meal was savored while consuming the last three episodes of Santa Clarita Diet (if you haven’t seen this dark comedy starring Drew Barrymore, I highly recommend it). We ate. We laughed. We were present and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We fed and comforted our souls.

It didn’t feel gluttonous but like living in the moment and enjoying food as an experience. A bed picnic is not just about eating in bed, it is self-care.

When we had eaten our fill and Santa Clarita Diet was over, the cleanup was quick. Revealing the made-up bed underneath was a psychological boost in productivity. I felt productive, but also inspired and recharged. I finally put away the clothes I had washed over a week prior, I was inspired to write this piece and found time for things I was avoiding. I knew that having a bed picnic was something I wanted to do, but I didn’t know that I would benefit from it too.

Crunchy Milk Chocolate Toffee Almond Cookies

Bed picnic is about celebrating simple pleasures, experiencing your food and enjoying the company of a loved one, if you so choose. These pleasures are what keep us in the present, where we don’t carry the things that stress us out or that leave us feeling inadequate.

Finding a balance between all the things that I want to do and the things that I should do has never been easy for me. I tend to joke that I have “do too much” syndrome. It’s not wrong to be ambitious; however, it is wrong to let life happen while you say, “I’ll be happy when...” 

Bed picnic has reminded me that life is not only about working hard but more about being grateful, present, and intentional. The bed picnic ritual is one that I will continue to practice when I need to unwind and reconnect. 

Amani Ali
Amani Ali

I step forward in life knowing that I am in control of my destiny. My light shines the brightest when I am playing competitive pool, eating and cooking, writing, hearing others describe the light in their lives.

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