Ever wonder whether it's a Rococo or Régence? Louis XV or Louis Philippe? A Bergère or Fauteuil? Each week, we will highlight a word, term, or phrase to help identify antique furniture, periods, and styles.
char·cu·te·rie [ shahr-koo-tuh-ree, shahr-koo-tuh-ree; French shar-kytuh-ree ]
noun, plural char·ct·te·ries [shahr-koo-tuh-reez, shahr-koo-tuh-reez; French shar-kytuh-ree]
1. cooked, processed, or cured cold meats and meat products, originally and typically pork products, as sausages, pâtés, hams, etc.
2. a store where these products are sold.
Origin: 1855–60; <French; Middle French chaircuterie, equivalent to chaircut(ier) charcutier + -erie-ery
Food is at the heart of French culture. And at the center of the heart these days is charcuterie — charcuterie boards in particular. A culinary art developed from necessity, the modern form definition of charcuterie involves dressing a board, usually wood, with cured meats, cheeses, and accoutrements. Derived from the French words cuit meaning cooked and chair meaning flesh, the term charcuterie was coined in 15th century France when pigs were raised by virtually every household. Before its modern definition, charcuterie was used to describe pork products (including the pig’s internal organs) sold in charcuterie shops that were salted, smoked, and dried, much like the methods used to preserve meat in Ancient Rome thousands of years before.
Charcuterie Sibilia, Les Halles de Lyon
During the 15th century, France had very strict laws that didn't allow the mixing of raw and cooked products. The first Charcutiers Guild was formed in France at that time, preventing charcuterie shops from selling uncooked pork — so the charcutiers cooked, dried, salted, smoked, and cured everything from rillettes to pâtés, saucisson, bacon, trotters (pig’s feet), and head cheese. They would then hang or display the cured meats in their shop windows to attract customers. Villagers frequented their local charcuterie shops to purchase the cured meats that would supplement their supply of fresh food throughout the year. The ingenious ways charcutiers preserved meat helped to ensure the meats would have longer shelf lives, and their popularity grew as they established stylized plates of "cooked flesh" as a part of the cuisine française culture. Cheeses, breads, fruits and veggies, nuts, olives, pickles, and jams were added over time, shaping the charcuterie board as we know it today.
Charcuterie boards have become an essential at casual (and even formal) parties or apéro dinatoires, not only in France but all over, especially since there’s no cooking involved! From ingredients to serving techniques, a bit of effort is required to attain the effortless je ne sais quoi that only an authentically French charcuterie board has. Think of the meats and cheeses as the main dishes and the accoutrements as the accents — and follow these 5 tips to master a charcuterie board any French person would j’adore.
And don't forget the wine! A charcuterie board is not complete without the wine pairings. You'll want to serve wines that compliment the flavors of the meats and cheeses without overpowering them. An oaky Chardonnay balances the spice of sopressata. Add a creamy French Brie and voila! You'll have a winning trifecta. Pinot Noir is a perfect choice for saucisson. Light wines like a dry Reisling or Muscato partner well with light hams like prosciutto, and if seafood is on your board, a Merlot or Pinot Grigio will blend perfectly with the salty flavors of smoked salmon, shrimp, and lobster.
1. Large 18th Century Rustic Country French Cutting Board or Chopping Block with Well / Item #LO3193A / Lolo French Antiques et More
2. Early 20th Century French Country Guillotine Style Bread Cutter with Board / Item #LO3192 / Lolo French Antiques et More
3. Country French Style Breadboards / Item #LFA223 / Lolo French Antiques et More
Father's Day is coming up this weekend, so why not surprise Dad with a beautiful charcuterie board filled with all his favorites? Instead of serving him breakfast in bed, indulge him with a breakfast charcuterie board filled with bacon, sausage, ham, baguettes, cheese, waffles and pancakes. Add in fruits, jams, butter, and granola as accoutrements. It might not be "authentically" French, but the process of building the board will be fun and easy — and the time spent with dear old Dad will be truly special!
When this self-described Francophile is not reading or writing about all things French, she's dreaming up charming new ways to showcase Lolo French Antiques et More or traveling to France with Lolo to buy delightful treasures for their store. Mimi, Lolo, and their new French Bulldog, Duke, live in Birmingham, AL.