... of nothing in particular, I've too many bad habits for that to occur. One of “those” habits that I thought was perhaps a little bit bad for me was my charcuterie "habit". Turns out it’s not quite as bad for me as I thought.
But let’s start at the beginning. Charcuterie literally translates from the French as “cooked meat”. Over time it’s expanded its empire to include not only cooked meat but also products that are “cured” in a range of ways like brining, salting, smoking, fermenting and drying. Curing came into being as a means of preservation as soon as we became meat eaters really, and as funny as this may seem if you've ever been to Italy and seen how they simply don’t follow rules (or parking laws) it was in fact the ancient Romans who first put laws in place to govern its production. They call it “salumi” and salami is naturally and confusingly a member of the family.
The French also have a long history of charcuterie, so between them they started spreading their salumi and charcuterie techniques across Europe and pretty soon everyone (who really already had their own techniques and products but just didn't want another war) were swapping their local produce with everyone else – serrano ham, frankfurters, kielbasa, chorizo, bresaola, pancetta, pate, terrine, rillettes, ham, jambon, on and on … all with their regional variations. Today of course they are part of our everyday food landscape and part of the reclamation of our culinary heritage, with some pretty good stuff using very local and seasonal ingredients in the products to market – especially in England. Salami flavoured with seaweed was delicious …However folks, cured products are concentrated and while modern fermentation techniques involve a lot less salt and chemicals than in olden days, they are still really meant to give you a big flavour burst in a small serving. I recall a lesson in this relativity from my Mother that I think applies, she told me not to guzzle a glass of apple juice straight down, but rather to think that it was the equivalent of 5 apples in that glass, so I should drink it at the same rate that I could eat 5 apples … and I think the same thinking would work with charcuterie …
But I can’t leave you without giving you a little dinner party ice breaker and a French lesson all in one for your charcuterie platter – apparently according to some learned Oxford edition ... charcuterie rhymes with bijouterie and circumlocutory.