Remember being a kid on the first day of school, that feeling you got when you had a new, never used pencil and an unopened box of crayons? The possibilities were limitless. That's how I feel about wooden spoons.
New spoons are imbued with possibility, the possibility of creation. What culinary delight will result from this virgin piece of wood? A master sauce? A delectable dessert? A comforting soup?
Old spoons, on the other hand, bring power, the power of those who have used them before. I have spoons used by my grandmother and great-grandmother. They are stained beyond salvation; some have cracks or dents, and all hold the secrets of long-ago dinners around the family table. Holding a "family" spoons, I can feel the love, patience and work that went into cooking the Sunday dinner. These particular spoons are legendary, impregnated with the tastes and smells of Irish and German cookery: Irish stew and Colcannon, Spaetzen and Sauerbraten, Coddle and Soda Bread, Rouladen and Bratkartoffeln. Holding those battered spoons, I can smell and taste the foods they so lovingly stirred.
Yes, they have imperfections, beautiful imperfections when you consider the source and truth of those imperfections. Recipes that failed, no matter how hard or long Nanny beat, sweated, and stirred.
Handed down by generations, these spoons—short handled, long handled, perforated, small bowled, large bowled—form the backbone of my kitchen, standing in a jar, side by side with the ones I've added myself. Newer, smoother spoons, these carry the promise of future degustation, of imagination and promise.
If a pen inspires you to write, try wielding a wooden spoon. Who knows what you may create. Me, I'm off to create a new stuffed crepe filling, hoping the magic of past generations of cooks will end up in my mixing bowl.
What are you inspired to create today? Food for the soul or prose for the spirit?