The magic of a spoon

Many restaurants are returning traditional 'spoon food' to their menus with great success.
Many restaurants are returning traditional 'spoon food' to their menus with great success. / SUR
  • Hearty comfort food has been part of our diet for thousands of years; now restaurants are bringing these back onto their menus

There are cultures based on the fork, others on chop sticks; but every population of the world uses spoons, says Bee Wilson in her book Consider the Fork. In what is one of only a few informative works on kitchen and table utensils, Wilson also points out that the first utensil used to feed a baby once it's weaned is a spoon. In reality food that can be eaten with just a spoon has always been comfort cuisine and part of the domestic environment for most of history.

The first spoons were made of bone and archaeological finds date the spoon back to between 15,000 and 8,000 years ago.

In middle class families the spoon became commonplace during the nineteenth century and in rural Spain later still. A wooden spoon was often shared during a meal, or crusts of bread were used to scoop up food.

Food that could be eaten with a spoon was established in Paleolithic times and archaeological remains of skulls with very worn down teeth point to this type of cuisine being given to older members of the group as well as to the youngest. This suggests that efforts were made to provide care for ageing and weak family members.

From the Neolithic period the diet changed to include cereals and beans, milk products and meat from home-raised animals and the spoon came into its own.

La Reserva 12’s Cazuela de Fideos.

La Reserva 12’s Cazuela de Fideos. / SUR

In ancient Rome, the basic village dish was 'gachas' (called puls, it is the root of the word polenta), a type of stew. From Medieval times until the Golden Age, soups and stews were the staple of the needy.

Michael Pollan, in his book 'Cooked. A Natural History of Transformation', underlines how, different to roasts which were a sign of abundance and celebration, the daily task of cooking in casseroles and stew pots signified the ability to transform the most humble ingredients into something wonderful.

In Spanish culture spoon food is in the DNA and has always held great importance, although nowadays in some households it is limited to what comes in jars or cartons. Thankfully more and more catering establishments in the province are bringing back the dishes from their childhood.