The wooden spoon

The original ustensil

The original ustensil

A humble remnant of culinary prehistory, yet still in use today, it was invented just after the fire and the earthenware pot in which soup was stirred. For Neolithic cooking it was carved from wood cut directly from the trees. Simple wooden spoons were found among the gold and silver versions buried in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. The wooden spoon has never relinquished its place in our kitchens.

In 19th century France it was given the slang name “mouvette”, for which there’s no direct translation: “stirrer” comes close*. Stainless steel or silicone will never equal the softness of wood, the patina from the hands that have grasped its long handle, the edges of the rim worn down at an angle thanks to long and patient use – because our grandmothers always insisted on stirring in a figure eight, or clockwise.

The right touch

The wooden spoon is an instrument that responds to dexterity. As robust as it is silent to use, it corrals sauces and allows you to stir, lift and turn food with precision. It embodies the skilful touch and helps the cook orchestrate the preparation and cooking of food like a sort of magic wand. Whether in oak, walnut, olive, cherry, willow, linden, birch, maple, bamboo or any other wood, whether hard or soft, it’s used in all circumstances.

In practice

The ancient wooden spoon ticks all the boxes for contemporary cooking needs. Organic, in raw wood, it does not conduct heat and there’s no risk of burning yourself when handling it. It does not melt and will not catch fire easily. Plus, it won’t cause any chemical reaction on contact with acidic foods.

A durable and economic kitchen tool, the faithful wooden spoon will not scratch the bottom of pots and pans. Ergonomic, its light handle of various sizes fits into your hand without slipping. It feels soft and warm. It ages well and wears out very slowly. And no, it is not a breeding ground for bacteria. Just wash it with soap and boiling water like any other spoon. Some even put it in the dishwasher. To treat it well, let it dry in the open air. Take care to reserve one spoon for salty dishes and another for sweet.

A long story

The wooden spoon is present across such a diverse range of eras and continents that it has become a collector's item, a symbol of civilizations and traditions, whether vanished or still with us. Some of these pieces fetch astronomical prices. It often plays a starring role in exhibitions of the culinary arts.

The bride's wooden spoon

In the Bigouden region of Brittany, there was a tradition that a young man offered a spoon – carved in hard wood, resistant to time and use, mainly in boxwood or wood from apple trees – to his fiancée as a token of love. A way of expressing his hope that they would share all of life’s meals together. Her acceptance signified her commitment to marrying him and taking her place in the kitchen while he was at sea. The object was so precious that she took it with her to large gatherings (marriages, harvests, feasts) and kept it all her life, except in the event of divorce or if her husband died before her.


The chef's tip


Placing a wooden spoon across the saucepan when pasta or rice is cooking prevents a film of starch from forming on the surface and the water from subsequently overflowing!

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