happy holidays

I Am Mesmerized by These Tiny Meat Houses

Beautiful! Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

The holidays will look a little different this year. The Thanksgivings may be Zoom’d, the parades may be (largely) peopleless, the gingerbread houses may be meat. For the most part, we can chalk up these changes to public-health protections amid a worsening pandemic, but as for that last one? I have no idea how we got here.

All I can tell you is that I have twice crossed paths with the phrase “charcuterie chalet” — which is to say, a small model cabin constructed using soft cheeses for the glue and cured meats for basically everything else — this afternoon, having stumbled upon blogs singing their praises seemingly out of the blue. Apparently, this is 2020’s answer to the festive icing-and-cookie classic. “The most savory snack this side of Christmas!” Taste of Home swears. “You can let the fun fly while putting together this meat and cheese chalet!” Cosmopolitan insists.

Frankly, I do not need convincing. I have fallen down a meat-house hole, into a strange but wonderful edible-architecture niche, and now everything is prosciutto. Look at this one, the way its ham walls seem to sag under the weight of so much chorizo. I bet that’s actually its mortar melting!

An arguable structural flaw that could be easily addressed with the addition of crackers for support:

But please do not let any of the practical concerns distract you from the sensory experience. Close your eyes and inhale deeply — imagine breathing in the scent of a warm charcuterie chalet, its bits freshly mashed into place by greasy human hands:

Also look at these gently sweating mozzarella snowmen:

They’re all so beautiful in their own unhinged way!

Personally, I have never felt much drive toward gingerbread-house construction, but when you translate the medium to mortadella, the entire proposition becomes more interesting. Dried-beef sticks repurposed as logs for my charming little cabin. Cracks spackled with a sticky brie. Exposed breadstick beams under a cheerful pepper-jack roof. A walkway graveled with bacon bits and trimmed with teeny cornichon hedges, all of which leads to a sharp-cheddar door with a caper for a knob and a wreath of shaved jamón for ambiance. A roaring Gouda fire in the pretzel hearth, half a hotdog for a chimney. Home sweet meat home!

I Am Mesmerized by These Tiny Meat Houses