Here's What The Word Charcuterie Actually Means

If you're a foodie or enjoy meals made up of an assortment of goodies, then you're probably familiar with charcuterie boards. The highly photogenic platters are certainly popular to share in restaurants, not to mention splashed across Instagram. There's no doubt about it, charcuterie has undergone its fair share of transformation since its humble origins as a technique to preserve food. According to Trealy Farm Charcuterie, the practice of brining, smoking, air-drying, and fermenting meat has been around since the time of the Romans.

Although these methods of meat conservation have long been used, it's only in the 15th century that the word charcuterie was defined. The term comes from two French words, chair and cuite, meaning flesh and cooked respectively, Trealy Farm Charcuterie explains. The source notes that the distinction was created to avoid contamination between raw and cooked meat, at the time solely pork. The art of processing meat was highly respected, even resulting in a guild of charcutiers. The act of curing meat is by no means singular to France, and cultures around the world use this method of preservation out of necessity and to build flavor.

How do we serve charcuterie?

Aside from being an excellent way to store meat over time, charcuterie has expanded to mean far more than its original concept. Nowadays, when you order a charcuterie board, a selection of items including cured meat, smoked fish, crackers, bread, cheese, fruit, nuts, spreads, and pickled vegetables might be on display. Cork Dining adds that the variety of options tend to pair well with a wide range of wines, making it the perfect accompaniment for your favorite bottle. Even better, the diversity makes charcuterie great for sharing.

The current rise in popularity may in part be attributed to what Business Insider refers to as charcuterie influencers. The source reports that Instagram contains around 1 million posts referring to charcuterie, a sure sign that it has become well ingrained within mainstream food trends. Nonetheless, there are many reasons why the charcuterie board is so popular. The mix and match of items make it incredibly versatile and easy to adapt depending on preference and availability. As well, (unless you're competing for the most Instagram-worthy board) it's an easy way to whip up a satisfying light meal without having to spend hours in the kitchen. Most importantly, the combinations of flavors make charcuterie undeniably delicious.