Question: Is there an acceptable alternative to the cheese platter?

Illustration by Twylamae
Words by Hannah Cole

Sweet dreams are made of brie.

Don’t shoot the messenger: I come bearing an important PSA. After all those festive cheeseboards are you feeling what I’m feeling? A little bit of bloat and a whole lot of lethargy? Please, take a moment to ponder.

For years I have lived – *thrived* even – off the regular consumption of cheese platters. Be it a birthday party, an intimate dinner or a viewing of The Bachelor, I would gladly supply or consume a wheel of brie. It’s been the pre-requisite; the element I use to judge any and every social gathering. No cheese platter? No points for you.

Following my half-baked attempt at veganism, I’ve been trying to focus less on the dairy and more on having a clear mind. I realised I actually like being able to think, without the fogginess that cheese so often brings. I could be less like a walking-talking dairy product, and more like a real human being with some semblance of energy.

So here’s the question: If you have overdosed in the cheese department and can’t give up social demands, what is an acceptable board alternative?

I pitched this to my friends and fellow Insta acquaintances and expectedly copped some light abuse.

“Nothing, cheese is life. You’re lying if you think there’s an alternative.”

To which I say, watch me.

Respectable answers also rang through. “Goon bag,” suggested one daring friend. Cheap, easy, but not so practical. “Fruit platter,” a few others put forward, promoting a picture of health (the perfect start to #newyearnewme).

I engaged my inner Antoni and got the culinary juices flowing to gather these additional, achievable ideas below. Key criteria: simple, fast, delicious.

The Vegan Board

Examples of vegan boards are almost unavoidable across the inter-web. I mean, #vegancheese has over 400,000 tags and counting. Just like a cheeseboard, minus the *real* cheese. Stock up on hummus in every flavour and venture into nut-based ‘cheese’ territory. I guarantee some guests will gobble it down as if it were the real deal. Add in the usual suspects (olives, vegetable sticks, nuts), et voila!

The Mezze Platter

There is nothing like a top-notch Mediterranean-inspired board to please the masses. Cold meats and grilled vegetables teamed with tabbouleh, hordes of hummus, olives, artichokes, and the cherry on top – dolmades. Toasted pita wedges and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds finish it all off. Who needs cheese?

The Crudité Ensemble

Looking to upgrade your social status? Nothing sounds fancier than a crudité platter. Just grab the most colourful vegetables you can find – radish, purple carrot, every tomato variation – plate them up and serve alongside tzatziki.

The Smörgåsbord

Because our obsession with Danish girls will never die, why not give a Scandi-inspired platter a go? It’s all about the smoked fish, pickles of every kind, boiled eggs and rye bread. Maybe even a side of dill-infused potato salad. TBH, if it’s good enough for those girls, it’s good enough for me.

Truthfully, I could never cut cheese entirely from my life. But, all good things in moderation and all that you know? While we try to fulfil our resolutions just a little longer than we did in 2018, these options may be a saving grace.

You may notice a momentary look of disappointment as friends walk through the door, but they’ll thank you tomorrow when they awake peacefully. Frantic cheese dreams will haunt us no more. So really, you’re doing everyone a favour.

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