Out and about at Perigian Beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, I came across some beautiful (and I do mean beautiful) wooden spoons displayed along side the book The Artful Wooden Spoon: How To Make Exquisite Keepsakes for the Kitchen by Joshua Vogel a droolworthy combination of craftsmanship, beauty, and function.
If you are after a visual treat, you should head over to the Joshua Vogel’s site – his sculptural kitchen tools a feast for the stylish eye. Made me look at wooden spoons in a completely new way. I feel an accouterment coming on.
My starting point was the article in Slate Magazine “In Praise of Wooden Spoons” by Lee Havlicek. Truly a humdinger of an article with everything you ever wanted to know about the history and uses of the spoon – which the author notes predate forks by thousands of years, going back as far as the Paleolithic Era and in their earliest form were small pieces of wood used to scoop up foods not quite liquid enough to drink directly from a bowl. The etymology of the word spoon reflects these humble origins—the Anglo-Saxon spon means chip.
That article refereed me onto Charles Panati’sExtraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, which details that wooden spoons have been uncovered alongside gold and silver versions in the tombs of ancient Egyptians,a sure sign that their owners saw them as useful enough to be considered essential even in the afterlife.
Of course the wooden spoon is a highly practical implement for the kitchen and many a good recipe actually directs you to use one in preference to any other implement. HealthyCookware.com outlines many advantages of cooking with a wooden spoon including: they won’t scratch cookware, they don’t conduct heat and the fact wood is an inert material that is is non-reactive means it won’t leach harmful chemicals into your food (hence no metallic metallic taste, unlike pesky metal spoons). Plus germs and bacteria don’t like wood. Designwise handcrafted wooden spoons are truly unique functional works of art and are durable as long as you take proper care of them. Wooden spoons are an environmentally responsible choice because they’re made from renewable, biodegradable and non-toxic substances
In the interests of equity, the article also shared a few downsides to wooden spoon use: wooden spoons are harder to clean than stainless steel or plastic cooking utensil and wood expands in water, they can quickly lose their glossy finish, and can develop splinters or cracks, they tend to pick up stains if used in soups and sauces and you really do need to check that any glossy finish on your wooden spoon is food safe, especially for imported items.