Charcuterie is the new, American version of Italian antipasti. Antipasti translates to “before the meal” and is a social event in Italian life. It serves as an announcement that something exciting is about to begin. People leave the worries of the day behind as they indulge in a delicious appetizer designed to facilitate conversation and liveliness.
Charcuterie can be served at any number of social gatherings. It can be edited to perfectly apply to any guests. Whether it’s a sports night with heavy meats and indulgent beer or a bridal shower with light crackers, flavorful spreads, and bubbly champagne, a charcuterie board caters to all.
Charcuterie boards are not an everyday occasion, and their presence at an event indicates importance. An event with a charcuterie board is something special, and much thought has gone into preparing the perfect board.
Things to remember when designing a charcuterie board to bring people together include location, presentation, and flavor profile.
Location, location, location! The key to using a charcuterie board to facilitate socialization is getting the location right. If the board is in the corner of the room, it is challenging for guests to graze while they talk. You want the board to have 360-degree access so that all of the carefully chosen elements are equally easy to get to. The best choice is to put the board on a table in the center of the room where you want people to gather. Provide small plates so that guests can grab a few items at once, but have to return periodically to continue trying all of the options. People naturally cluster around food, so if you want everyone to socialize in the living room, positioning your board on the kitchen counter is not the ideal location.
The presentation is also important. You want your board to be colorful and elegant so that it attracts people from across the room. Easy ways to incorporate color are by including fruits and jellies, such as grapes, apple slices, or apricot jam. You can also include pickled vegetables, olives, and nuts. Once you have a diverse color scheme, you’ll need to ensure you plate everything in a stylish manner. Use a nice board to organize your charcuterie and put anything in disposable containers (like spreads) into small glass dishes with serving utensils. Cut the cheeses and meats into slices so that guests can easily serve themselves without having to set plates down to use a knife. The best charcuterie boards allow guests to easily serve themselves while maintaining conversations at the same time.
Finally, taste is essential! Your board should stimulate conversation as your guests rave about the different combinations that others should try. Pairing the best meats and cheeses isn’t always easy, but with a little practice, you can get it right every time. To be safe, make sure you include a mixture of strong and mild meats and cheeses for guests to pair as they wish. This way, you have something for everyone. As you get more advanced in your charcuterie knowledge, you can design specific boards for different audiences and occasions. Then, select wines that go well with the meats and cheeses to round it all out.
Charcuterie is a great way to facilitate socialization at any event. It provides a great centerpiece for people to gather around, allows guests to eat periodically throughout the event, and gives everyone something to talk about to easily start a conversation. Whether you are planning a movie night or dinner party, consider starting the night with a carefully designed charcuterie board to get the conversation flowing naturally.