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(char • cu • te •rie) /,SHar’koodere/
The colors, textures and artistic compositions possible with meats, cheeses, fruits, pickles and crackers engage all the senses. It creates a positive and memorable experience when shared with family and friends.

Charcuterie is hot, hot, hot…yet requires no cooking!

At first glance, Charcuterie is an imposing word. It requires a moment of pause to consider before you pronounce it, and then you probably do so with trepidation. Before you turn the page, though, you should know the appeal of this historied (and hot again) craze is anything but imposing. A great charcuterie board can (and does) cross age and budget boundaries. They can be created at all different price points and customized for a kid’s party or a fancy adult affair. For seasonal celebrations, they are spot on.

First, charcuterie is pronounced “shar-koo-tuh-ree.” Say it once, and it will roll off the tongue so easily you will forget to stumble over the fancy French spelling. Then you can move your focus to the magic of it all. Simply defined, charcuterie is a French word for a store that sells cold cooked meats and describes the products sold in those stores, e.g., smoked, cured, and salted meats. Used in a sentence: “I’m not sure my friends know what charcuterie means, yet they order it every time they see it on a restaurant menu.”

That is a fact. The popularity of charcuterie has soared in recent years. A recent article in the industry publication Progressive Grocer is of the same opinion: “Charcuterie and the deliciously gorgeous boards used to serve it have become so popular that Instagram influencers are quitting their jobs to design colorful charcuterie boards full-time.”

Professionals attribute the popularity of creating attention-grabbing boards to a few factors. In an interview with Business Insider, history professor Ken Alaba theorizes that putting together photogenic charcuterie boards brings together craft and food cultures, making for a satisfying DIY experience.

Add to that the influence of social media on food culture, especially during COVID, when everyone’s attention is online. A search for charcuterie on Instagram yields more than a thousand hits. Other social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok also boast myriad followers of the craft of making – and consuming – a delicious charcuterie spread. The possibilities of charcuterie are as legion as the trend’s followers. Meats, cheese, breads and crackers, veggies, fruits (fresh and dried!), nuts, pickles, olives, preserves, even cakes and candies, are all “on the board.” Is anything so perfect as prosciutto and fig jam? Or a fat sweet grape with gorgonzola? Perhaps a salty slice of salami and a palm full of sugared walnuts?

Designing a colorful and well-curated charcuterie board is a delight for the senses. It is a perfect meal option or an appetizer course. It encourages participants to slow down and savor good food and good company. More than a few local restaurants have welcomed
charcuterie and you are likely to find tempting options on the menu wherever you go. Embrace all the hype and begin a culinary journey that has stood the test of time. If you are not already, you will quickly find yourself hooked.

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