The words charcuterie and cheese board are often used to describe the same thing, but there are notable differences between the two culinary platters. One reason for not using the proper names is the pronunciation of charcuterie. It’s a gourmet masterpiece with ingredients that have been carefully curated and then artistically arranged. If you mispronounce it, it’s easy to see that there’s more to it than just a meat and cheese platter tossed together minutes before guests arrive.
What is Charcuterie?
The term charcuterie, pronounced “shahr-ku-tuh-ree,” refers solely to meat and preservation. A charcuterie platter in France typically consists of cured meats and specialty meat products artfully arranged on a board platter or tray. As its popularity has grown globally, the platter often contains a variety of palate-pleasing foods. It’s not unusual to see charcuterie that includes artisan bread and cheeses, olives, fruits, nuts and various spreads.
What is a Cheese-Only Board?
A cheese board is a platter that includes a variety of cheeses and usually does not contain charcuterie which is the meats, as we explained above. The cheeses can range from soft, creamy brie to sharp cheddar and tangy blue cheese. Crackers and bread provide a vessel for the cheese, while fruits such as grapes, sliced apples or pears, and dried fruits add a sweet contrast. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pistachios offer a crunchy texture. Other great additions to cheese boards are honey, jam or balsamic glaze. A cheese board is perfect for entertaining guests who do not eat meat and can be customized to fit any occasion or taste.
Not Your Typical Cheese Platter
When you order a gourmet cheese board from a company like Boarderie.com, expect high quality, specially curated cheeses. This isn’t a tray with Ritz crackers and some basic cheese. On an artisan cheese platter, you’ll find handcrafted cheese from all around the world, from small family farms in traditional and off-the-beaten-path flavors. A properly curated cheese board will have several types of cheese that vary in texture, taste and firmness.
Types of Meats Used for Charcuterie
Most of the meats found on a charcuterie board are inspired by Italian or French cuisine and cured, dried and aged to perfection. Popular selections are prosciutto, salami, soppressata, speck, pate and capicola. Salami often comes in a variety of assorted flavors like white wine, black pepper and truffle.
Types of Cheeses Used
A good cheese board offers a variety of styles of cheeses such as aged, firm, soft, crumbly and creamy. You’ll find cheese made from different types of milk as well: cow, goat and sheep, each imparting its own unique flavor and texture. Cheese can also be handcrafted with ingredients such as wine, truffles, beer, fruits and berries.
Cheese and Charcuterie Board Gifts for Any Occasion
No matter what you call it, meat and cheese tray, cheese platter, charcuterie board or even the silly moniker ‘shark-cuterie’, the fact remains it’s a delicious snack, appetizer or gift. These specially curated boards are essentially artwork that you can eat. So much time and passion has gone into both the creation of the artisan products as well as the designing and arranging of each board. Many charcuterie and cheese board offerings change to reflect both seasonal and holiday offerings throughout the year.
Now that you know the difference between the two, don’t forget to order a few for your next gathering, birthday or just because.