Gone are the days where dinner parties consist of bland, pre-packaged appetizers you stick in the oven and hope turn out okay. Now whether it be a football game, a girl’s night out, or even this year’s Grammy’s – a well designed charcuterie board is a must have on any host’s table.
While it’s certain on-trend right now to put out a beautiful board for your friends, the concept of laying out meat, cheese, and nuts to nibble on before a meal is not new. It dates back to ancient Rome and then 15th century France, when it was though that nothing from an animal should be wasted – not the heart, brain, kidneys, or lungs! These small cuts of meat (in French: flesh “chair” and cooked “cuit”) would often be put out as small delicacies similar to now.
Many cultures have their own versions of charcuterie, notably the Italian salumeria and Japan’s otsumami (“nibbles” of sushi, salty snacks, and alcohol). For a good charcuterie board – almost anything goes. Nuts, cheeses, pickles, dates, grapes, the list goes on. The key to the beauty of cheese boards are the pairings and the design.
From the board itself to the layout of the food, there’s plenty of room for creativity when it comes to assembling a board. Much like a painter’s pallet, boards can be a beautiful kaleidoscope of color, design, and function, matching the theme for the night or just allowing the delicious food to speak for itself. To bring the board all together, a great host knows which wines to pair with their spread. It’s a feast for the senses, an amalgamation of sweet, savory, and well balanced, providing all sorts of texture, taste, and beauty through food.
Making these boards, deciding what is on them, and finding the perfect drink to pair with them is a creative adventure for any host. The key is to have fun, find something delicious, and enjoy!