I collect old kitchen utensils.
If you want to win me over, don’t give me a bouquet of wild flowers or a little blue box with a rock in it. Give me a rusted out old egg beater or tin spoon completely worn down on one side or a 40 year old garlic press. If it is useless, rusted, lead-paint–covered, chipped, lop-sided, worn-down, dented, beaten to a pulp with wear and extricated from the back of an old rotting barn, then, I am so excited might explode.
I love them...all aging metal and stained and marvelous, worn with years of stirring, chopping, grating and mincing, held by hundreds of cooks or sometimes just one, dipped in thousands of sauces and gently put to the cooks lips for a quick tasting or last minute seasoning. They carry the memory of all those hours working in the kitchen at the behest of some home cook, who may have loved or loathed their work.
They are reminders of cooking amazing food, but they're also humbling reminders of the kitchen's comedy of errors - pots boiling over and meats burned and tough as leather and a roomful of guests and no appetizers in sight and maybe even the occasional singed forearm and slashed index finger and a few dishes that are so abysmal and horrible tasting that they must simply be erased from memory. Each utensil is an artifact of that real-life blooper reel.
I have one enormous metal spoon that my mother remembers was her grandfathers. One side of the spoon is worn down from his stirring. It was his favorite spoon. How could I not have that hanging in my kitchen?
I just simply adore them…which is why I let Lucy and Edie play with my utensils. I let them touch them and poke their fingers into them and spin them around and throw them into bowls to stir imaginary concoctions.
And they were doing all that on the kitchen floor when Lucy decided to put the beater in Edie’s hair and spin the hand crank until thick twines of blond baby hair were all caught up in the gears and my baby was screaming and Lucy was panicked and trying to pull the beater out and I had to grab the beater and bob and weave through the kitchen and out into the living room, following this little moving, crying baby and holding the egg beater gently and close enough to her head, without pulling any more hair and uncurling it from around the shaft of the beater and calm Lucy who kept asking, quite annoyingly over and over, “Edie crying?” as if there might be some debate.
It all ended just fine. Tears were shed and dried. Feelings soothed. Curls back in their pretty nest on Edie's head. Artifacts hanging back on the kitchen wall. Where they’ll stay for right now...