Kitchen essentials | the wooden spoon

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Indy Lifestyle Online

What is it about wooden spoons? The handles are an ergonomic dud. The material breaks, burns and discolours. They can be a major pain to clean (think white sauce and dried-out scrambled egg). And there are innumerable alternatives in steel and clever thermoplastics that do the job of stirring just as well.

What is it about wooden spoons? The handles are an ergonomic dud. The material breaks, burns and discolours. They can be a major pain to clean (think white sauce and dried-out scrambled egg). And there are innumerable alternatives in steel and clever thermoplastics that do the job of stirring just as well.

Yet the old standby persists. Why? Well, one reason is nostalgia. The old-fashioned image of a cook is of Granny at the Aga, lovingly tending her soup or sauce; and the utensil in her wizened hand is, of course, a wooden spoon. There's nothing wrong with that image, of course, but it has little to do with the 15-minute frenzy that most of us know as cooking nowadays.

An important reason for our love affair with wooden spoons is their combination of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. At prices starting from under £1, they cost less than a lot of throwaway items - yet they last forever. After Elizabeth David died, her estate sale included a number of spoons still in perfect working order (which sold for ridiculous prices).

They are also the original non-stick cooking implement, incapable of harming even the thinnest coating of Teflon or whatever. Their curved outline means they can reach easily into round-bottom cooking vessels with ease. And they don't make a screeching, fingernails-on-blackboard sound as they scrape the sides and bottom of the pot.

Dull as table salt, and just as irreplaceable. As long as people cook, they'll cook with wooden spoons.

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