Charcuterie boards got me through 2020. I’m not ashamed to say it’s basically my whole personality. How do you even pronounce it? Shark-Hooter-y. It’s French, like Emily in Paris. A traditional board consists of cured meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, dried fruit, crackers or baguette bread, and jam arranged on a wooden board or platter.
It started as a humble dinner. I either had to brave the grocery store or find something to eat from the odds and ends in my kitchen. I raided the fridge and pantry pulling out whatever wasn’t too expired. Some lunchmeat, a handful of almonds, string cheese, a jar of olives, and stale crackers. The combination of items gave me a faint deja vu of shared dishes at restaurants with friends. This is my dinner. Hey, this shit actually goes great together. It pairs well with the “wine tastings” I’ve been doing every night which are just 12 small pours from the same Bota Box.
The next week I found myself at the fancy grocery store across town asking for stilton and prosciutto. My deli selections are so posh that each slice comes with a little piece of wax paper to keep them from sticking together like a fancy wedding invitation. Do those have a name? I’m calling them meat receipts. It’s settled. I can save all my meat receipts in the box I used to collect concert ticket stubs.
There are those who say these recent iterations are abominations and not true charcuterie. You can’t just fill in with fruits and veggies…that’s rabbit food! Then you add chocolates, cakes, and little finger sandwiches. It might as well be an English Tea Party. Add hot wings, corn dogs, and jalapeno poppers and you’ve got an Applebee’s Sampler Trifecta. At this rate, I’m more likely to get mistaken for the Michelin Man than a Michelin Star Chef. but I say put whatever you want on your board.
If you’re having a large gathering (which you really shouldn’t, but this is a cool idea) you can turn your dining table into a giant charcuterie board by putting down butcher paper. Don’t have room for a large spread? Try a Charcu-Tree. It’s a tall cone-shape made from styrofoam stabbed with meat-laden toothpicks to resemble a decorated Christmas Tree.
The irony of charcuterie’s popularity during a pandemic is that it’s a dish multiple people put their hands into. Enter the Jar-Cuterie. It’s a sampling of everything that comes on the communal board arranged inside a mason jar so you don’t have to share. Why a mason jar? Because it rhymes and I have 500 unused jars in my basement after my wedding got canceled.
If I can find a use for my wedding jars (except for the ones I smashed) then you can find a charcuterie combination that fills the void. It’s all about expressing yourself through the art of adult Lunchables.