Food & Drinks

I Am Passionate About Snack Boards, And These Are My Rules

My taste buds embody the phrase “the heart wants what it wants,” and usually what it wants is a wide variety of flavors, textures, and culinary experiences at once. Being satisfied with just one flavor in one meal? Nah, I’m a tapas girl. 

So, as is to be expected, I struggled in the beginning of quarantine when I was forced to eat… leftovers, which, for some reason, took all of the joy of food and cooking from me. Yes, I made focaccia, and yes, I ate that entire focaccia over a 14-hour period, but I found myself, rather early on, getting burnt out just cooking for myself day in and day out. So I returned home to Michigan, where my mom (who is a living genius, let me tell you) introduced me to the concept of a snack board.

In the island of our kitchen in quaint Franklin, my mother, a few times a week, would set out whatever plate she decides suits her mood and cover it with a variety of food options—bright, fruity goat cheese, cherries (it was Michigan summer, after all), almonds, maybe a few slices of prosciutto—and that would be what we’d graze on throughout the day. I had always considered myself a charcuterie connoisseur and, pre-pandemic, a general fan of #pancakesforthetable and #friesforthetable, so it was an earth-shattering moment to realize a snack board might be a game changer for me and my tastebuds. Snack boards broke up the minutiae of my day, when the only thing I had to look forward to was watching a rerun of Real Housewives of Potomac while drinking too much Beaujolais and painting-by-numbers.

Charcuterie is a dream your heart makes, and a snack board can literally be whatever you want to be. Are there rules? Kind of. Are they entirely arbitrary and put in place by me because that’s the only way I can feel like there’s any control in my life? Yes!

Rule #1: There are no rules.

This is your opportunity—but hopefully not your only opportunity—to do what you want. If you thrive on chaos, you’ll enjoy a snack board. Set it up with a vast array of fruits, vegetables, cookies, handfuls of dried cranberries, and that ham that isn’t quite enough to put in a sandwich, and that’ll get you through a solid work day. All you want is a little bit of everything—the key is to play with flavor profiles and textures on your snack board. Pair a sharp cheddar with grapes and some chocolate-covered pretzels. Just don’t call it charcuterie.

Rule #2: A charcuterie board is not the same.

If you’ve spent any time on TikTok, you’ve probably seen the “breakfast charcuterie. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is a brunch board, not a charcuterie board. “Charcuterie” is a very fancy French term for “grandiose amounts of cured meats and meat products” according to the definition my brain just invented. Just because there’s bacon on your snack board does not make it charcuterie. Words have meaning, people. Can a snack board solely feature cold meats and cheese? Yes! And that is both a snack board and charcuterie. A charcuterie board can be a snack board, but a snack board is not a charcuterie board.

And the minute you start soft-boiling eggs or pulling out pancake mix with the purpose of putting them on your snack board, please reconsider. If you’re going to spend the time actually making things for your snack board (ahem, not your charcuterie board), you probably should just make a whole meal. (In my book, an Eggo waffle is fine because of ease and speed.)

Rule #3: A party can have one attendee.

Snack boards do not have to be shared. Making a portion for yourself is just as legitimate as creating a decadent plate to be enjoyed with your roommates. Shred some rotisserie chicken and pair it with that amazing chili crisp spread from Trader Joe’s, placed alongside some strawberries that definitely need to be eaten soon, as well as hummus and carrots. It’ll look like a Lunchable, and that’s totally okay.

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