I have several personal collections, but the prominent one this time of year, is the perennial home and hearth implement, the wooden spoon. With me, it’s not the long cauldron or stew pot variety, but the diminutive and personal wooden spoon meant for jam and honey jars, chutneys and soft cheese and one’s own mouth. I collect wee wooden spoons.
It started with a tactile, comforting grasp at the fall Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival a few years back. Standing in the booth of an artisan woodworker, I spied a small spoon made of cherry, a mere five inches in length, light as a feather, smooth and familiar to the touch. It was lovely and became a favored objet d’art in our household such that our Jack Russell terrier claimed it, chomped it and permanently altered its functionality while rendering it with endearing charm.
I began to seek out small and rare wooden spoons online through eBay and Etsy, locally at artisans coops and gourmet kitchen retailers. I’ve amassed a collection of 67 spoons in oak, cherry, olive, bamboo, coconut, walnut, maple, pine and acacia from many countries on several continents in both hemispheres.
Favorites include the acorn-stemmed child’s spoon with genuine teething marks, the sensual stripey cherry cat tail, the penny-sized Welsh Love Spoon and the antique Italian ANRI spoon with prominent visage of man with red nose and bad teeth.
I have arbitrary criteria for selection — must be all wood, six inches or less in length, preferably handmade, frequently unpainted and always unique. At some point, small dippers, scoops and spreaders found their way into my heart. Perhaps it was the antique ice cream spoons that I bought. You remember those Bentwood spoons you got with your Dixie cup ice-cream? Back then, they had an actual bowl indentation, now they look more like short, curved tongue depressors. At least they’re not plastic. So, maybe I collect wee wooden implements.
Happy to report, the latest additions to my collection all came from within the Main Street Market. At the Seasonal Cook, I bought a gorgeous maple spoon by local artisan Brent Taylor, who sustainably “harvests” fallen trees in and around the Piedmont. Across the way, on the shelves at FEAST, an olive wood spreader and condiment spoon caught my eye. Both are from Berard of France, hand crafted of course, uniquely marled and naturally strong.
For our end-of-month meal-of-thanks, I’ll use my new olive wood spreader with the Goats-R-Us pumpkin chevre on Ginger Nairn’s biscuit appetizer. The new spoon can accompany the cranberry-orange relish as it gets passed around and around the table.