Charcuterie Definition: What is Charcuterie Really?

The definition of charcuterie actually has quite the historical timeline, even though the term has become extremely trendy as of recently. Essentially, the charcuterie board isn’t new, it’s a modern spin on a very traditional and historically rich way of sharing a meal.

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Maddie Cook

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January 21, 2023

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The definition of charcuterie actually has quite the historical timeline, even though the term has become extremely trendy as of recently. If you’re wondering about the real charcuterie definition, we need to travel way back to the time of the Roman Empire, when salt was first used to cure meat. This practice was modernized in 15th century France, where they created the delicious process of curing meat that we know today, founded on ancient Roman traditions. 

(By the way, if you’re at a loss with how to pronounce charcuterie- sharCUTerey? chaCUTErie?- never fear! Read our blog here >>)

So, the traditional charcuterie definition involves the process of curing meat with salt and spices that was crafted in France and used today all around the world. Traditional French charcuterie involves dry cured meats, salami, mouses, pates, and more.

Today, if you mention charcuterie, it's probable that the traditional charcuterie definition won't be the first one that comes to mind. That’s because our modern charcuterie definition has evolved to mean a beautiful board artfully laden with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, dips, and more, with complimentary flavors and a variety of textures. 

charcuterie definition
Beautiful fall charcuterie board by Pure Wow

How did this come to fruition? Many food influences, such as the Scandinavian “Smorgasbord,”and the British “Cheese course” at the end of a meal have evolved throughout history to become the delicious shareable meal we know today.

So, when is a good time to serve charcuterie? 

If it were up to us, we’d say anytime! But charcuterie makes a great party food because of its snackable and shareable nature. Guests can grab the foods they want and come back later for more. Parties of any size are easily served with charcuterie; you can simply up the serving sizes of each ingredient and grab more boards as guest count increases, or even use a table as your board! They also can make a great shareable meal for two, a fun and creative activity for a date night or a girls night, and a perfect picnic food. Whatever your occasion, charcuterie is usually customizable to fit it perfectly.

charcuterie definition
Jaw-dropping charcuterie by Tastes Better From Scratch

Essentially, the charcuterie board isn’t new, it’s a modern spin on a very traditional and historically rich way of sharing a meal. Trends and social media have made charcuterie a limitless and customizable dish. Take, for example, dessert charcuterie, charcuterie for dogs, and individual charcuterie cups. You name it, you can charcuterie it.

Hungry for charcuterie now? Here’s some inspiration >>

Further Reading
The Best Options for an Oak Charcuterie Board
Oak is a beautiful wood choice! That’s why an oak charcuterie board is a gorgeous base for styling meats, cheese, or even desserts.
December 16, 2022
The Best Charcuterie Board with Sides
Charcuterie boards are beautiful, but a charcuterie board with sides is practical! If you’re looking for some board options with sides, we’ve got you covered with options ranging from extra large to small.
December 17, 2022