Charcuterie Board Etiquette

If you’re like me up, until recently you had no clue what a Charcuterie Board was. Well, gather round kiddies, I’m gonna tell you all about it. See back in my day we called a charcuterie board a “cheese and meat tray” and more recently, at two am on a Saturday while I sat on the toilet gripping my stomach, I screamed to my husband that I shouldn’t have eaten all those “weird-ass cheeses and meats on that wood plank”. Which is to say, it goes by many names.

Picture this: It’s a warm, sunny day in Saluda, North Carolina and I walk into an ultra-hip restaurant with my friends and family and a hankering for some cheese. A thin man with a wicked-sweet porn star mustache and uncomfortably skinny jeans approaches our table, and I ask, “Y’all got cheeses and stuff?” And he’s like, “Uhhh…” So I say, “You know, cheeses and like, things” as I make a shape like a board in front of me. Then he says, “Ohhhh, do you mean a charcuterie board?” And I’m all, “Maybe…” Then he winks and says he will take care of me and I’m nervous because I think that might be a sexual suggestion and I’m not into mustache rides… from a skinny dude. Turns out he meant he would bring me meats and cheeses, because the next thing I know this fancy-ass board is placed in front of me, and Boom! I am introduced to the world of charcuterie.

Charcuterie is a French word, duh. (If you couldn’t work that out, then I just can’t help you, it’s above my pay grade.) It roughly translates to “cooked meats” like bacon, ham, sausage, and a bunch of real fancy, French-ass meats. (Side note: The person who prepares a charcuterie is called a charcutier, which means “pork butcher” successfully rendering me a butcher. Which has always been a life goal.) Basically it is shelf-stable meat, right? Forcemeat, emulsified sausages, brined meats that, eaten in large quantities, cause gastrointestinal cancer, as well as diarrhea (see above).

Then there are the cheeses. Oh Cheezus Christ, the cheeses. There is aged cheddars, and goat gouda. There is gorgonzola and stilton. There is asiago and brie. Stop it right now, I can’t take it anymore! I LOVE cheeses!

Whew. Sorry. That was inappropriate and uncalled for, but you know, necessary, in a get-all-your-burdens-off-your-chest sorta way. Thanks for listening. I owe you one.

So I decide, Missy, you can be fancy-ass too. You too, can host a party and have a charcuterie board. It can’t be that hard to do. And so I did it, in these 18 easy-to-follow steps.

Step One: Get a board. This step took me seven months. Listen, I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell, Missy? I just Googled it and I can have one at my house in three hours.” But listen, like most great ideas I get, I sorta, kinda, forgot what I was doing. Sure, I looked on Amazon as soon as I got home last summer, and even placed a couple of boards in my cart for good measure. And whenever I was bored or needed to shop I would look at my boards and picture what kind of cheeses I wanted to try. But I never pulled the trigger. Meanwhile, I did move on to step two.

Step Two: Get some favorite meats and cheeses. This was simple for me because I already knew two things. 1. Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheese is the best aged cheddar on the face of the planet and I will fight anyone who disagrees and 2. I don’t like hard salami.

Step Three: Invite friends over for a charcuterie.

Step Four: Convince them there will be wine too and tell them to stop asking you questions about the food, they will get fed, look, are you assholes coming or not?

Step Five: Go to Harris Teeter in a panic to get olives.

Step Six: Yell at your husband because you told him to get “fancy-ass beer” to go with the “fancy-ass cheeses” and then roll your eyes when he asks what the hell a “fancy-ass beer” is. “SOMETHING LOCAL!” you scream as you slam the drawer closed when you realize you have nothing to cut cheeses with. (I’m taking the high road here and not including a joke about “cutting cheese”.)

Step Seven: Google “How do you cut cheeses” and find that you need special cheese cutting utensils.

Step Eight: Drive to TJ Maxx. They have everything.

Step Nine: Buy the special utensils, a new wallet, three new dog toys, Christmas ornaments on clearance, two new toothbrush heads, and a llama painting.

Step Ten: Get home and realize you still don’t have an actual fucking “board”.

Step Eleven: Eye the trees in your backyard suspiciously. You have that old hand sander that you bought yourself for your 35th birthday. You could probably make a new board in the next three hours.

Step Twelve: Resign to use a big “platter”.

Step Thirteen: Start to cut up the cheeses and meats, realizing that you have no idea which utensils works for which cheese, abandon the utensils and saw at the bricks of yellow and white until they are start to crumble all over your counter.

Step Fourteen: Call your friends and tell them you have a horrible migraine and you can’t host the party. Send sad, sick emojis and promise a kick-ass party to make up for it.

Step Fifteen: Cry in your bathroom while you eat the crumbles of cheese from a ziplock bag.

Step Sixteen: Six months later happen upon a charcuterie board at TJ Maxx, snatch it up quickly and run to the register before you forget what you are doing.

Step Seventeen: Run over to Trader Joe’s and buy five bricks of aged cheddar, some asiago, some other cheeses that sound yummy, ham, salami, and some soft goat cheese. Get crackers.

Step Eighteen: Pull out the board and all these cheeses at your Super Bowl party likes it no big fucking deal and you do this all the time. You don’t label anything, or make it look fancy, least your friends think you have lost your mind. But you know, you kinda wish you had more time to plan.

Actual fucking cheese and meat tray at my Super Bowl party this last weekend. No one ate the goat cheese. I will get better. Or not.

Enjoy.

May you live your best charcuterie li(f)e.

M.

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