The word charcuterie originated from the French term chair cuite – ‘cooked meat’. Today, it has come to mean the art and science of the pig – in other words, the butchering, fabrication and preparation of pork – but it is also a term used more generally for all sorts of cold meat, poultry and fish products and dishes.
At home, we often had charcuterie of cold meat with fresh baguette, gherkins and radishes. This was our usual starter in spring and summer, and we loved it. Then came the main course, which may have been smoked pork shoulder, roasted and then braised with cabbage or turnip. In Lure, my hometown, every Tuesday was market day, when the large town square was filled with local producers selling livestock. You could choose your pig, hen, duck, turkey, rabbit and a lot more for your dinner or for your farm. Once a month, farmers from all over the county would come to the market to meet, make deals and buy livestock. I used to walk among them and listen to the stories they told. Sometimes, big arguments would break out, and in the regional dialect too, which was so hard to understand. There was never a dull moment.