Finger-lick'n Charcuterie | The Truth, Episode #10
What the heck is a Charcuterie Board—I mean really?
In simple terms, it’s a piece of wood with food on it!
But you know the French, they have to get all fussy and romantic about what they put in their mouths.
The word charcuterie, if you’re into etymology (how’s that for a fussy 10-cent word), is the combination of the words chair and cuite, which literally translates to cooked flesh.
If you’re a vegan I just made you sick, but wait there’s more…
Charcuterie in the 1400s was the term used to describe the storefronts of France’s pork butchers (charcutiers), which displayed hanging cuts of pig in their windows.
But the word today is no longer reserved for pork alone. It also applies to beef, veal, duck, fish, etc..
As for a charcuterie board...did I mention we sell this gorgeous charcuterie board -- now on sale at a ridiculously BIG discount?
And you can put anything you want to eat on it.
From cured deli meats to cheeses, veggies (pickled or raw), fruits, breads and crackers—in short, anything delectable you want to chow on can be placed and arranged on a charcuterie board.
And, there are even charcuterie boards that can be arranged for vegans. I’ll dive into those in an upcoming post.
But today, we’re gonna talk about cheese—because it was National Cheese Lover’s Day last week (on January 20th).
Now, if you hate cheese, can’t stomach cheese… grab yourself a peanut butter sandwich (unless you’re allergic to peanuts) and skip down to Part 2: The Truth.
Otherwise, I invite you to…
Design your charcuterie board with different cheeses!
Ideally, your selection of cheeses should include something aged with a strong flavor, like an older cheddar or a high-quality parmigiano.
Contrast those with something creamy, soft, and maybe a little mild — brie and goat cheese fit the bill perfectly.
For something that inhabits that in-between space, Gruyère or Manchego are great options.
As a good middle ground, choose cheeses that are not too firm or too soft, like blue cheese or gorgonzola.
Moving beyond Cheese…
Vary the textures of your foods.
Include cured, dried, and spreadable fares, a paté for example.
Dry-cured salami or Spanish chorizo are easy choices, too.
If you’re creating a snack board just for yourself—there are no rules or limits on what to put on our gorgeous teak charcuterie board (yup, another shameless plug).
But if you’re entertaining friends and family, everyone’s palate or taste will be different so it’s a good idea to put out a good mix of salty and sweet, acidic and vinegary.
Now if you’re wondering…
Is cheese really all that unhealthy—and fattening?
Well, I’m not going to be a party-pooper and play doctor or dietician here.
Bottom line: Although cheese is high in saturated fat and sodium, it's also rich in calcium and protein, and some fermented types even contain probiotics.
So, as with most of life’s great joys…
Moderation is key.
And, if you want to be on the safe side…
Consider some “healthier” cheese options:
- Mozzarella cheese: rich in protein and low in sodium.
- Cottage cheese: low in fat, but high in sodium.
- Ricotta cheese: low in fat, but high in sodium.
- Feta cheese: low in calories but also lower in protein and high in sodium.
- Goat cheese: low in calories but higher in sodium and not super protein rich.
What about processed cheeses?
Though any processed food is generally considered unhealthy, it’s worth noting all cheeses are processed because of the draining and curdling that’s needed.
However, there are a few minimally processed cheeses to consider:
- Ricotta cheese
- Goat cheese
- Feta cheese
- Mozzarella cheese
- Cottage cheese
And that brings us to a cheesy end of a delicious charcuterie board feast.
Now, to our continuing, ever-popular saga…
The Truth, Episode #10…
BTW, if you’re new to this captivating story about why Classified Top Secret Documents were not found in my cat’s litter box (wait, I don’t own a cat!)…
Or, wait to watch the entire star-studded movie as soon as I sell it to Netflix.
Now if you recall, in Episode 9…
I was fired from my position as a substitute waiter at Jerusalem’s Inter-Continental hotel and kicked out of the hotel’s employee dormitory when two hard-boiled eggs rolled off my serving tray into a glass of tomato juice I had set down in front of a customer.
The juice splashed all over the customer’s face and shirt. His wife thought it was hysterical.
I thought it was hysterical.
The Inter-Continental did not.
So I moved into an apartment with a British sex-maniac and his three American female roommates.
Now, if they were indeed Charlie’s Angels, I would’ve stayed.
But they were unlovable witches, and I was gone less than a month later.
In the classified section of the English newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, (at the time Wolf Blitzer was one of its editors, pre-CNN), I found another room to rent.
My new roommate, Ira, was a hefty-size American, roughly my age, and just as aimless as me.
However, his parents had bought him the apartment we shared.
As opposed to my parent’s who shipped me off to Israel, without a penny in my pocket, to teach me a lesson.
(If you haven’t read my sob-story—start at the beginning with Episode 1.)
Anyway, me and Ira got along really well. We became best buds.
He even gave me time to find a job so I can pay my rent, which I also found in the Jerusalem Post.
I began work for a small international freight company.
I really don’t remember what I did there, which couldn’t have been much because I didn’t speak Hebrew.
All I remember I was asked at one point to write a letter to an American freight company that was refusing to pay their bill.
My boss really had no hopes of getting the money they owed. Nonetheless, he asked me to give it a shot.
Which I did, and a few weeks later, I got a letter from the American company’s attorneys addressed to…
Barry Densa, Esq.
Ha! They thought I was the company’s attorney.
And inside the envelope was a bank check for the thousands of dollars they owed.
Wow. I was impressed.
And my boss was impressed, too!
So he paid for me to attend an ulpan.
An ulpan is a school, or a class, where they teach foreigners to speak Hebrew.
And they did a fairly good job on me, because…
From the moment I stepped into my classroom it was made clear, by our drill-sergeant female instructor, that no language other than Hebrew was permitted within those walls.
This was to be total Hebrew immersion, sink or swim.
Understand, the goal, depending on the ulpan you attend, is not necessarily to make you fluent in Hebrew, but rather to get you to a level of proficiency where you can communicate effectively.
To understand and be understood on the Israeli street
Obviously, no one in the classroom was Israeli, other than the teacher.
There were about 12 of us. I and four others were the only Americans.
Those four others were good ol’ boys from Kentucky
Members of a bluegrass band that had been touring the world until they ran out of places to perform, were pretty much broke, and were now stuck in Israel—just like me.
And just like me, they decided to learn Hebrew.
Why not, we didn’t have much else to do.
So we became fairly good friends during the two or three months we were in the ulpan together.
And I was often invited to their apartment to listen in on their rehearsals—and I gotta tell you they were jaw-dropping good.
To this day I still love listening to knee-slapping, foot-stomping…
Eventually, the boys were able to leave Israel, don’t remember how or why.
But I was still stuck there
Ok, it wasn’t all that terrible.
Ira’s apartment was in a modern, upscale, American-style Jerusalem neighborhood called Ramat Eshkol.
Prior to the Six-Day War it was Jordanian territory.
During the Six-Day War it saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war.
At its center, commemorating the battle fought, is a memorial park called…
Ammunition Hill was a heavily-fortified Jordanian military base dotted with bunkers, machinegun emplacements—and all connected by a sprawling network of trenches overlooking the areas below.
It was a 2-minute walk from our apartment and I spent many a weekend afternoon sitting there reading Newsweek, imagining the fighting that had taken place there, and contemplating what I should do with the rest of my life (which, I’m still doing).
Bored with my job and generally discontent, I found myself…
Perusing again the job postings in the Jerusalem Post
I soon found an advertisement for employment at the Jerusalem Theater.
Hmn! Maybe it was time to get back into acting, and polishing my Oscar acceptance speech.
However, the ad was for a position at the restaurant inside the theater.
Nevertheless, I fantasized that I might be able to finagle my way into playing a role in a stage production.
But, that didn’t happen.
What did happen…I met Helen, who would become my first great love.
And how ironic that was.
Because the first time I met Helen was years before, when we were both riding the “D” train from the Bronx to The High School of Performing Arts—our high school.
In next month’s The Teakster: The Truth, Episode #11, I’ll tell you the rest of the story.
In the meantime, please let me know in the comments section below if you enjoyed reading this month’s Episode #10 of The Truth.
Until next month...
Stay teak strong!