Defined By A Word

I was working on a restaurant ad for Pinehurst when I came upon a word I’d never heard before: “Do you want to show the ‘charcuterie’ (shahr-koo-tuh-ree) photo,” Don, our account manager, was asking the client. The photo of the whaaaaa???? I thought. The client answered this question affirmatively and Don told the Art Director to use the shot of the “charcuterie” in the ad. The art director apparently knew exactly what shot he was describing.

I was the only one who was still in the dark as to what this magical photo would contain.

I consider myself fairly educated. I graduated with honors from high school. I got the English Award, the Art Award and the DAR Good Citizenship Award my senior year. And I graduated from UNC four years later . . . with NO summer school, I might add. I passed the spelling and grammar test in Journalism school. I traveled all over Europe, visited several cities in Africa and even spent the night on the Rock of Gibraltar. I’ve worked in advertising agencies in Philadelphia, Richmond, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Winston-Salem. . . Never once did I hear the word “charcuterie.”

My quest this past week has been to find out if I’m the only person ignorant to the joys of this multi-syllable mystery. I’ve been quizzing everyone I know.

“Do you know what charcuterie is?” I ask the mail man. . . the dry cleaner. . .my boyfriend. . . my neighbor. . .my hairdresser. . . even my handyman. About half have never heard of it. (Thank you, God!) The other half look at me like I am an idiot. It’s as if I asked them if they knew what “salt” was. (Darn foodies!)

In the midst of this, I caught an interesting episode of “Modern Family.” In the show, Jay is building a model airplane when Maddy presents him with a “charcuterie board” for sustenance.

“That’s charcuterie?” Jay asks. “I’ve been avoiding that on menus for years. They’re killing themselves with that name!”

I couldn’t agree more.

How bout you? Do you know what “charcuterie” means?

Seriously . . .let me know.

Meanwhile, I’ll be boning up on my vocabulary with an intense reading of Merriam-Webster.