There are few things I absolutely have to have in a kitchen. I don’t need expensive pots, or crystal crockery I’ll use when a condescending extended relative comes to visit, or even single-use gadgets. In fact, to feel confident that I can put together a good meal using whatever’s in my cupboards and drawers, all I really need is some curry powder, a touch olive oil, and a wooden spoon.
For other self-proclaimed home cooks, the first two of the aforementioned three are bound to vary – but the third should always stay a constant. 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. Despite this, wooden spoons seem to have fallen out of favour in home kitchens. I rarely see more than one (if any at all) in the tangle of utensils on friends’ counters, and wooden utensils are consistently outnumbered by those made from other materials. So many people neglect this beautifully efficient and historic kitchen tool, ignoring the many reasons wooden spoons are better than the rest.
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. It can muddle lemon and mint for a whiskey smash, stop a pot of pasta from boiling over, and fold together the wet and dry ingredients of pancake batter. It is also, I have found, much more effective in punctuating emotions than other utensils when waved around in gesticulations. It lasts forever, looks equally at home on a stovetop as on a beautifully set family-style table, and like Helen Mirren, just gets better-looking with age.
Why do people prefer non-wooden spoons? There are a few concerns associated with wooden spoons, but none of them hold water. It’s hard to imagine any other kind of spoon powerful enough to ward off Satan.