An Exhibition of Spoons -Histoire de Cuillères

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” T.S.Eliot

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Spoon: “A utensil consisting of a small, shallow bowl on a handle, used in preparing, serving, or eating food.”  We all know them, can’t do without them, and the variety is endless.

That plastic jumble above is one contribution by modern times to the wonderful world of spoons, the most ubiquitous of tools, and the least likely example to disappear.  It probably also represents the one spoon that can probably be found everywhere in the world and used by more cultures than any other, unlike this unique ceremonial spoon.

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The exhibition is a private collection of over 3000 spoons from around the world that pays homage to this common constant kitchen companion and to the creators of such a simple, useful, and often beautifully crafted tool.  Many are still made today, sort of following the old traditions, but the production is also driven by the tourist trade.

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Replicas of the colorfully painted spoons of eastern Europe and Russia, the animal motifs of African spoons, and the intricate carvings of Persia to name only a few of the distinctive examples on display in this comprehensive collection, can often be found in flea markets and in ethnocentric tourist shops.

The exhibit was in the Forney Library, a lovely turreted building tucked down a little street famous for its ancient fig tree, between the river and the bustling Rue de Rivoli.forney

Throughout history, and world-wide, wooden spoons have been made by artisans, spoons which reflect the life of their culture. And they are still exploring new ways of bringing the humble spoon to the table.  One of the best is in the US of A and I had the pleasure of seeing him recently in an exhibition of hand crafted delights. Jonathan’s wild cherry wood spoons are  simple and clever, beautiful to touch and to hold, and so perfectly functional.

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While early spoons were made with rudimentary tools, now lasers are used help make them more beautiful, special and available to the masses.

The Love spoon or wedding spoon may be the most symbolic of spoons and was created by so many cultures, but I think perhaps the line above by T.S.Eliot speaks more symbolically of the spoon for modern times . . . or at least of all the life that is discussed over a “cuppa” . . . .stirred by the humble spoon.

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