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Charcuterie's Back!

Charcuterie was a method, first regulated by the Romans, to preserve meat before refrigeration. I knew curing meats was old, but I had not idea it was that old.  Back in the day preservation was done out of necessity.

Now, modern day, and charcuterie is becoming a trend.  Whole Foods lists charcuterie as a trend alert on their blog.

Why is something that was created from necessity, now desirable? Refrigeration is way more prevalent today and preserving meats is really not necessary. Why is this happening?  

Let's begin by unraveling how and why meat is preserved. 

Originally, saltpeter was used to cure, but was inconsistent and some people died from botulism as a result. Thankfully, German chemists, in the year 1900, discovered sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. Since the discovery, nitrate and nitrite have increased in use due to their more consistent results curing meats, i.e. less people died.

Sodium nitrite has multiple purposes in the curing process.

Flavor - The nitrites add a sharp, piquant flavor to the meat. 
Nitric oxide - Nitrites react with the meat to create this.
Rancidity - Nitric oxide prevents iron from breaking down the fat in the meat making it less rancid.
Color - Curing results in the reddish brown color found in cured meats.

In 15th-century France, local guilds regulated tradesmen in the food production industry in each city. The guilds that produced charcuterie were those of the charcutiers. The members of this guild produced a traditional range of cooked or salted and dried fruits, which varied, sometimes distinctively, from region to region.

This should not surprise you, but the French were early pioneers in charcuterie, too.

That explains a lot about why there are so many older, but well-built charcuterie structures located throughout France.

See for yourself. 

Un travail d'équipe depuis 1904 #kirn #kirntraiteur #charcuterie #familial #traditionnel #Alsace

A photo posted by Kirn Traiteur (@kirntraiteur) on

Sainte Gauburge (Orne) mai 2016 #orne #province #charcuterie #magasinfermé #enseignes #typographie #typography #vintagetypo #igersFrance

A photo posted by Alain Chenneviere (@alainchenneviere) on

Charcutier-traiteur à côté d'une pâtisserie ; que demander de plus ? ❤️😇🍷I love France 🇫🇷 #loves_france_ #icu_fr #icu_france #gf_france #ig_europe #hello_france #ilovefrance #architecture #archilovers #façade #windows #fenêtres #chienassis #charcuterie #traiteur #patisserie #picardie #pierrefonds #devanture #streetphotography #charcutier

A photo posted by (@maurelita) on

For the day..... #bastilleday #france #beaujolais #blackandwhitephotography #kelvinhudsonphotography #butchers #charcuterie #portrait #blackandwhiteportrait

A photo posted by kelvin Hudson (@kelvinhudson) on

What is charcuterie, really?

Charcuterie is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork.

This is how they do charcuterie in France today. If you are not carrying your raw materials through the front door, on your back, then go home -- player!


A photo posted by Dima Tsypkin (@dimatsypkin) on

Are you ready for the reason we are eating more preserved meats when there's really no need because of refrigeration?  Today's charcuterie is primarily enjoyed for the flavors derived from the preservation processes. So there you go.  It's consumed nowadays because it tastes good!  

I'd like to think there's more to it.  Don't you think charcuterie boards are classic eye-candy? Some of the charcuterie boards chefs are putting together are just amazing. Here's one for example.

If only this Mediterranean appetizer could be delivered for lunch 😍#cheese #charcuterie #hummus #olives #myfavorites #hostesswiththemostess #lovelydarlings 📷: @the_organickitchen

A photo posted by Lovely Darlings (@lovelydarlingz) on


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