On Becoming a Charcuterista

February 6, 2008

charcuteriecover.jpgI guess it’s appropriate to begin my new identity as Charcuterista with bacon. It’s an enduring love affair I’ve carried on through my life. One of my favorite professors in college, a vegetarian for 25 years, once admitted to me that bacon was the one meat she still craved; I can believe it.

This adoration, coupled with a more general urge to know how foods are made and where they come from, led to my Christmas wish list this year. I stumbled across Charcuterie by Michael Rulhman and Bryan Polcyn in Harvard Books while visiting some friends in Boston over Thanksgiving. Flipping through the pages, I realized that these traditions (something approaching the power of magic in my head thus far) were possible, and not only that, actually doable.

Part of the attraction of charcuterie for me is the utter abandon of it – the sensuousness of a silky, thin slice of prosciutto; the shattering crisp of bacon; the unctuous spicy flavors of sausage. Part of it lies in the opening for creativity, variation, and the ability to make something new and different.

But the most important part I see is the possibility of forming a new relationship with what I am eating. I am not a vegetarian, nor am I terribly interested in becoming one, but I am interested in how what I eat affects others. I feel like charcuterie is a way to make more with less, a way to use parts that might otherwise be wasted, and a way of intensifying meats so I can use less of them.

My first project, of course, had to be bacon.


9 Responses to “On Becoming a Charcuterista”

  1. jessica Says:

    i’ve never been so proud.


  2. charcuterista Says:

    Thanks, peanut.

  3. Jen Says:

    this sounds like a great project! best of luck with it. Have you seen ‘The River Cottage Meat Book’? if you’re interested in traditional meat preparations (and using lesser known cuts and offal aka “Variety Meats”), then it might be up your alley. Btw — the bacon looks awesome…

  4. Lalaine Says:

    Less than 10 recipes yet the best ones I’ve seen! Good job~terrific photos, great recipes, KEEP THEM COMING!

  5. hey, i just watched the London episode of Anthony Bourdain, and he is with the offal Fergus Henderson and with a few butchers. If you haven’t seen it, you should catch it.

  6. Beauty13h Says:

    What great recipes! The stories behind them make it even move exciting to try. Keep up the great work!!!

  7. Gilli Says:


    Have just caught up with your blog after you have visited me. Really enjoyable…you are in my favourites now.
    Ahhhhh Bacon, along with freshly baked bread, and freshly pressed coffee I think everyone’s favourite aromas.

  8. Donna Says:

    Wonderful blog already. Will be visiting often!

  9. bruce aidells Says:

    I really enjoyed your blog and am always thrilled to see people enthiastic about charcuterie and smoking.
    I’m not sure you are aware of the book I wrote call Bruce Aidells’s Complete Book of Pork. Not only does it have a very simple recipe for making bacon and even ham but there is a very strong chapter on charcuterie in general with a real emphasis on Italian salumi.
    Don’t fill bad if you did not know about this book having a very strong chapter on charcuterie because it is buried in the back of the book. My editors decision and not mine. Let me know if you have any questions of issues in the future that I can help you with and keep up the good work.

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