Fostering Fellowship: Charcuterie and Lessons From St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Looking for ideas for feeding family and friends?

Promote fellowship with boards full of delicious choices.
Promote fellowship with boards full of delicious choices. (photo: Bridget McCartney Nohara photo)

Charcuterie boards — bountiful platters of nibbles and noshes — have grazed the scene and become prominent players in the party scene for good reason.

As the holidays approach and both hosting and gift-giving are front of mind, consider offering a charcuterie board. Not only is this my favorite way to serve a party, large or small — it has also become my favorite way to gift.

What I love about gifting boards, platters and all their accoutrements is that you can easily tailor the price point to the occasion; a platter, board and goodies that will adorn it is suitable for a wide range of ages, styles and festivities.

As far as gifting goes, the options are endless and can be a delightful way to enhance a theme or play on a season. I have also noticed, as both a host and a guest, that there is something unifying about sharing fellowship this way. 

Nothing breaks the ice quite like an overflowing, beautifully arranged platter of good eats.

You can be as fancy or as casual as you’d like, but here are some of my staple items. 

I try to have these (shelf-stable) items at home at all times, just in case a board is needed spur of the moment. 

What you will need:

A board: You can find them all over, but check out these lovely pieces made by Catholic artisans: Holy Family board, “Bless Us O Lord” board and “Do Everything With Love” board.

Meat: For a board to be considered “charcuterie,” it must include cured meats, staying true to its French origins. I stick with prosciutto and a spicy Calabrese salami or two. It’s always nice to have various spice levels to accommodate different tastes.

Cheese: Cheese is, arguably, the star of the show. I use up to five different cheeses on my board, usually based on what’s in my fridge. If you’re giving a board and don’t know what type of cheese the receiver prefers, try going with something classic, like a nice parmesan or a sharp, well-aged cheddar. Only go with something like goat, brie or bleu if you know they have a taste for it.

Nuts: I like to have a small variety of nuts and seeds on the board for munching. They can be raw, roasted, seasoned … whatever you like! Bonus points for roasting/seasoning/candying nuts and putting them in a mason jar, offering a personal touch.

Crackers/crostini: On a well-put-together board, you’ll always find a worthy vessel for the fixings you’re serving. You can find all sorts of delicious artisan crackers to pack into a charcuterie gift. Don’t forget to consider if the receiver might be gluten-free and include such an option to enjoy. Bread, after all, is a blessing, as St. Elizabeth of Hungary can attest.

Something sweet: I like to finish a board with a little sweet treat. Dark chocolate (or chocolate-covered anything) or dried fruit works well.

Bonus suggestion: If you’ve bought a board and don’t know what items to gift along with it, or are really concerned you don’t know what they like, think about buying a lovely recipe book to accompany the board. There are many books about putting together a charcuterie board that provide beautiful inspiration. Here are a couple: Platters and Boards and Boards and Spreads.

Think simple, thoughtful and edible. 

That combination is always sure to please. Most of all, have fun with your festive fellowship!