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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: April 7, 2021

Charcuterie

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,



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"Charcuterie" is a French word for a platter which traditionally consists of cured meats (like ham or smoked sausage,) cheese, olives, nuts, dried fruit, crackers or crisp bread, and jelly or jam. The term Charcuterie is pronounced "shahr-ku-tuh-ree" according to one source I looked at and "shar-coo-tree" by another, which is what happens when you are trying to use a French word but don't speak French. You are bound to botch it up.

My sweet daughter-in-law has a sister who is an absolute queen of this food item, with her platters including not only traditional meat and cheese, but also fresh fruit like grapes and berries, and a couple of delicious spreads like guacamole and dilled cream cheese. They are absolutely lovely and irresistible. My daughter also makes this treat when she is a hostess, using interesting tidbits from a Seattle farmer's market. And my granddaughter gets a child's version that she requests by asking for a "snack tray," which is a compartmented kid's plate with fruit and cheese cubes, along with some crackers and "meat sticks" " a kiddie charcuterie, if you will. (My sweet granddaughter loves "meat sticks" so much she got some in her Easter basket, and I got a video clip of her holding them and saying "I am SO HAPPY," scorning the candy.)

At my house, my version during deer season includes an elegant whole stick of venison sausage, and a big block of aged cheese on a cutting board, along with a knife, and if I have time, napkins. Next to it is a box of crackers. This is plunked down on the bar and everyone has at it. Not a good reflection of my French heritage or my food artistry.

But the reason I am thinking about charcuterie is an article from the New York Times, with charcuterie reimagined as a dog treat, called a "Barkuterie" board. If you'd like to see examples, Pinterest is loaded with homemade versions, but of course you can buy them, starting at $30 for a box six inches by six inches from one vendor I saw. Some of the items included in dog platters were blueberries, baby carrots, antelope jerky, dried sweet potato, commercial dog treats, dried fish, "doggy dim sum steamers" for Asian food fans, duck feet, and tripe. (Tripe is the second stomach of a cow.) This is not a "belated April Fool's thing, I swear.

You can accompany this with a "dog beer," a non-alcoholic drink for dogs and there are many brands for you to select from including one called "Good Boy" beer, a four pack for $18. The clever flavors included "Mailman Malt Licker" and "I.P.A. Lot in the House." If you are on a budget you can get a "working dog's" four-pack of bone broth for dogs for five bucks, sort of like the canine equivalent of a working man's inexpensive lager.

Most of us dog lovers do treat our pets, but this is taking it to quite an extreme. But there is beauty in an occasional splurge for a pet, and having choices about their food is enjoyable for them just like it is for us. Maybe they love duck feet but aren't crazy about carrots " they can indulge however they prefer to. Or, maybe they've never had the chance to try a new food, like tripe.

I don't have to make my dogs a special platter of treats, though. They manage to scrounge their own whenever we walk. WARNING: Icky mental picture ahead! Even on leashes, they discover discarded human food along the road, and dead animal carcasses, which they gobble quickly before I notice what they are up to and jerk them away. Ivy will sneak under the horse fence and grab "a snack" every chance she gets, and Wolfgang can dig through eight inches of snow to find frozen "things deer leave behind," a highly coveted treat. They love eating sunflower seeds the birds spill under the feeder. They both eat grass, and dead fish is the ultimate both to nibble and to roll in.

I could make up a fancy platter of these items, seal it in plastic and market it as "farm-raised authentic barkuterie." City dogs could receive them as birthday gifts and get a real taste of rural dog life.

I even thought about the commercial potentials of chicken charcuterie. True free-range chickens are omnivorous " a nice way of saying they will eat almost anything. Besides vegetation, they will gorge on dead June bugs under a yard light, drowned night crawlers on a driveway, rotten tomatoes, egg shells, and small animals like voles if they can capture them. Yes, chickens relish "meat." Our son has a small flock of urban chickens and they come on the run when he cleans deer hides for tanning. All the fat and soft tissue removed from the hide is gobbled as fast as it hits the grass. And that is why truly free range chicken eggs look and taste different from those that come from commercially raised hens. Those are confined indoors eating strictly commercial chicken food, which isn't as varied as the normal diet of free-range chickens with choices.

The market for the dog platter would be bigger, of course, but lots of people have a few urban hens, and their owners can tell you how old each named hen is. These urban chickens are pretty close to "pets," and I could see owners who must keep their flock penned enjoying giving the flock the luxury of a heaping platter of June bugs.

Not much market for cat charcuterie though. Many housecats are notoriously picky about their food. I bet a six by six inch box full of live mice, ready to be released in the house for their hunting enjoyment would be welcomed though. Sort of like the feline equivalent of human "canned hunts" in fenced commercial hunting establishments.



You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.




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