Not Another Cheese Board: A Study Cheese Boards As Self

Millennial currency isn’t based on cold hard cash anymore—it’s based on how cool you can make your cheese plate. Hear me out.

Recently, I was told about the three rules of having the perfect cheese board, the ultimate guide to hosting friends for an intimate lactose soiree. The perfect cheese board casts you into a becoming light where you can represent yourself as someone who, quite simply, has their shit together. There’s a lot at stake here, no pressure. When I picture a cheese board, I picture an Instagrammable moment that shows off how “cultured” I am. Cheese boards, possibly more than any other snack, represent the wholesome renaissance humans we want to be: gorgeous, widely adored, the center of attention, and a little bit fancy. But perhaps more important than any of those attributes, however, is that they look really, really good on Instagram. I used to view a cheese board as a really fun, carb-y substitute for dinner. An excuse for copious amounts of wine and springing for the Tartine baguette over its inferior counterparts. Now, it’s something much greater than that, and apparently this is a ritual we need to put forth effort into. Thus, why I’m writing this essay. 

You may be asking, “OK, but what are the rules?” Well, we start with a variety of cheeses—ages, recipes, forms, shapes, sizes. It’s just cheese and it’s going in my mouth, one way or another. Why am I subject to making sure that my cheese board is diverse. Maybe it’s teaching me something about mindfulness, keeping myself accountable when it comes to my personal life (outside of cheese?) But do I need my food that will be snapped and snacked to hold greater meaning than I’d like it to? Does it want me to feel bad? What almost always ends up happening is that somebody, inevitably, will call themselves a cheese plate. The people who seem to have it all together, with bits put in over time, items that make them evolve as better people—this person will always have very high self-esteem and may be a bit of a snob.

So, we put it out to our team, what was their consensus on cheese boards? Ultimately, everyone was in favor. A cheese board accurately portrayed their lives. “My mom and I make cheese plates every week,” said Sarah from our social team. “We get all sorts of cheese, fruits, veggies, crackers and go to the park to enjoy.” I wasn’t aware that cheese boards create stronger family bonds. Were you? “I don’t really make them because they seem like a lot of work,” our editorial assistant Sofia chimed in. And I live in her camp—they are a lot of work for people to digest. Could cheese boards liken to be a Japanese meditation garden or a college level sculpture class? “We feel they are delicious and since more groceries have better cheese sections they can now be something everyone can enjoy and feel boujee with,” says one of our community members who weighed in on the cheese board debate. Other community members chimed in, “A must.” Others, “Essential.” 

“Eating cheese should be fun,” says Tia Keenan, a cheese expert and referred to as a cheese rockstar in some circles, in conversation with “The Splendid Table,” “don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Experiment. Taste. Share. Cheese is one of the few foods that has remained a part of food culture for millennia.  It’s our birthright: made from milk, our first food. Also, eat the rind.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate cheese boards—by any means, I’m a fan of putting them together and creating a magical spread. Take a look at our last holiday party last year—a cheese board that I put so much time into that I even bought a separate oak wood board to house the creation on. But I soon realized that even though in the beginning cheese boards can be the most gorgeous thing to look at, they become gruesome to watch being devoured. Like the birds of prey, friends scavenge the remnants of the board. After the feast, you’re left with ripped apart memory of your once lovely creation, and there my affinity for cheese boards dwindles. I hate seeing beautiful pieces of art being destroyed. 

But that is the mess of life, no? To watch things go under over time—and may be yet, to watch others enjoy the insanity of what you put together. Cheese boards represent more than what you’re eating—they’re a direct reflection of your own personal sanity.

// Photography via Unsplash.

Not Another Cheese Board: A Study Cheese Boards As Self
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