A recent article published on Slate.com sings the praises of the humble wooden spoon:
Wood is sturdy but not harsh, lasts for years or even decades, and is one of the most versatile materials out of which a kitchen utensil can be crafted.
I’m sure it is no surprise that I couldn’t agree more! The article “In Praise of Wooden Spoons” written by Lee Havlicek captures many of the things that inspired us to begin carving spoons to begin with. Versatility is one of the many wonderful thing about making wooden spoons – they can be created in any shape or form to suit any and every cooking need. The article goes on to extol the virtues of wooden utensils over ones made with other materials:
As long and varied as its history is, the wooden spoon’s versatility and durability is what makes it worth using. Wooden spoons don’t quickly heat to scalding temperatures, chemically react with acidic foods, or scratch pots and bowls, as their metal counterparts do. They don’t melt or leach chemicals or strange tastes into hot foods as plastic does. A wooden spoon can be used to stir any dish in any type of vessel.
Among a number of interesting historical facts about wooden spoons (did you know wooden spoons were considered to be essential for the afterlife by the ancient Egyptians?) the author gets to the heart of the reason of why we are inspired to create wooden spoons:
While all of these facts already tip the scale in favor of wooden spoons, there is also an emotional and visceral reason to use them that comes from the comforting, familiar way wood feels in your hand—not cold and severe like stainless steel, or dull and characterless like plastic. Wood retains memories in a way that metal and plastic cannot. It shows signs of use. It changes color and texture, wears and ages, even changes shape. I can look at one of my wooden spoons and see a dent from harried Thanksgiving cooking, or a dark spot from summer blueberry pie. And when I use the wooden spoon that belonged first to my grandmother, then to my mother, and now to me, I cannot help but feel that I am cooking in the company of all past meals that the spoon has stirred and with the help of all the hands that have done the stirring.
The photograph above shows a little crock of wooden utensils I keep close to the stove. In the back is my all-time favorite wooden spoon, and the only purchased one in the lot. I have used this same wooden spoon for as many years as I have cooked for myself, and it was the first thing I bought for my first adventure in apartment living when I left home. It is worn, dented, burned and battered, but it is still my favorite cooking tool. I doubt anyone would develop this kind of attachment to a silicone spatula or a plastic spoon, and I’m certain that if I had purchased one of those for my first apartment that it would be long gone by now.