Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Wooden Spoon.

There is something comforting to me about large wooden spoons. Admittedly, I was never paddled with one as a child, or I'm sure their comfort would be lessened greatly. However, I do remember a wide wooden paddle, handed down from my great-grandparent's and their Minnesota dairy farm. It was less of a spoon than a butter paddle, but I was always intrigued with its character -- cuts, stains, and oils from hands I never knew, told me stories of work, and love, and patience born. Perhaps it had swatted at my grandmother and her brothers? This wooden spoon, bringing pain and bearing tears, before stroking forgiveness into a battered mix.

But I didn't own one. All of my wooden spoons were abandoned when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease...the fibers possibly harboring remnants of rogue grains, they were given away to those they could not harm...and, along with the contamination possibility, when I divorced and moved into single life again, I took only the bare essentials with me. For many months I slept on a lawn chair a friend picked up for me (free, off the side of the road, craigslist style), and ate with the only utensil I owned: my camping spork. I loved this simplicity.

However, now, I want a wooden spoon. Most women surely think about shoes and clothes and a designer bag or two. I have been lusting over a spoon.

So, I went to the store that has everything (really, they do!): McGuckin Hardware. I methodically examined each possibility, and they had many. I handled each one, pretending to stir, standing alone stroking the air, as imagined tastes whetted ideas.

This is another beauty of wooden spoons --- imperfection. They reflect hard work, and the truth that sometimes, things just don't turn out, no matter how hard you beat and churn and sweat.

Finally, I found my spoon. I like how it feels in my hand, I like the possibility of splinters, and I like the stories mine will someday tell...

And, it is made in France...

Which, reminded me of the fresh tarragon I had, waiting...tonight would be its night.

I rummaged, and pushed and shoved ideas and ingredients. I opened up my Encyclopedia of Healing Foods to Tarragon. I must know with what I was working. Tarragon, I am told, is of the genus Artemisia belonging to the daisy family. It is of Mongolian heritage, and Pliny the Elder advised carrying a branch to protect against snakes and dragons. I should be safe from such beasts tonight, I'd think! Also, I read that in the Middle Ages, tarragon was thought to cure tired feet and sprigs were placed in shoes before long journeys. Shall I try this on my next hike I wonder?

Rubbing a few soft leaves between fingers poised as an oracle, scents of spicy sweet licorice rose to greet my curious nose. Oh, this would be delicious. I have recently been introduced to Gastera, and this muse has tonight, advised wisely, even to a stomach ill with the day and with its lot...

~ Musing Tastes ~

Romaine lettuce
Sautéed zucchini
Fresh tarragon leaves
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly cracked mixed peppercorns


  1. How strange, that the scent I associate with High Places and open tundra (oh how I savor the smell of open sage, it is almost overpowering during warmer months once a certain altitude is reached...over 11,000), should lend its name and wield its power for the god of the sea.

    I will try plucking some "chew" soon.

  2. I remember the spoon....hmm I wonder if it is still about hidden away in a box of memories. Look forward to hiking above the tree line with you this summer in search of some "chew" and wildflowers.
    Oh and I think you picked a very fine spoon and made in know you ancestors once owned castles in France.

  3. I know, 'tis why I picked it! It was my ancestors speaking to me through a spoon, surely!

  4. Erin
    Tarragon is one of my fav spices, I told you early on about my student and rubbing tarragon on her neck. Wooden spoons are good, yes. The memories that come with them better, if they have a vintage.

  5. Mike - I remember that story about the student. And yes, wooden spoons with cracks and stains and years and generations of memories are the best.