My Tasting Spoons

my tasting spoons

my tasting spoons

I never intended to have a gaggle of tasting spoons. They just sprouted into a collection over the years.

I’m such a fan of “little.” Small bowls, small plates, small glasses. I like bites rather than gulps. Espresso in a demitasse cup rather than a mug of American. And that’s just where this started. I had 2 demitasse spoon collections. These spoons were my go-to tools for tasting or stirring small amounts. In stores and food markets and flea markets I always get drawn into sets of small spoons. And forks. Those seafood forks or appetizer forks. Everything seems to sparkle more when smaller. And sparkle cuter.

Now in my cooking classes, the little spoons and forks are engaged throughout class to taste our concoctions. Students have been inspired to start their own collections.

Of course over the years I’ve lost a few here and there so now my assortment is a ragtag mismatched bunch. Here are the last remnants from my first two demitasse spoon sets.

my oldest demitasse spoons

my oldest demitasse spoons

I think my mom had given them to me. The one with the red color in the handle was part of a set where each spoon had a different dot of color. I love these little guys but now only have one. (Do they fall down the drain of the sink?) The longer one is my favorite for making a quick vinaigrette (drizzle a few rounds of olive oil in a small bowl, add some salt & pepper, a few tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice – or both – and about 2 tablespoons of grated parmigiano- whisk vigorously with a little spoon until combined).

I think these colorful plastic spoons are meant for ice cream.

plastic ice cream spoons

plastic ice cream spoons

There was a set of six originally, but somehow three got spirited away — my favs are lost: the red, the yellow, the dark blue. They’re from that fun store that used to be in Grand Central Station (can’t remember the name) with whisks that had doll heads and staplers shaped like crocodiles. When I last lived in NY I lived in Spuyten Duyvil, Bronx and took the commuter rail at Grand Central to get home. While waiting for my train, I usually browsed this store, or ate a slice of pizza from Two Boots (thin with a crunch of corn meal).

These are plastic, too, and from Eataly in NYC.

spoons from Eatlaly

spoons from Eatlaly

There used to be six of them (where DO these spoons get lost to??). They’re so tiny but I find myself grabbing them first for tasting the tomato sauce or the crazy grits I make every Monday morning (crazy because they’re filled with an assortment of chopped leftovers) or stirring my caffe latte in the morning. My mom has a set of red ones. She still has all six.

When the spoons run out in class (because we taste, then throw the spoon in the sink) we move on to small forks. This is the only fork left from a set I bought at a flea market in Madrid, Spain.

fork from Madrid, Spain

fork from Madrid, Spain

I spent a week in Madrid after doing a stint with an archaeological team in Burgos, Spain. We were digging up the stage of an ancient Roman theatre. In the Madrid flea market I bought a pretty belt that was several looped chains together (perfect for the belly dance classes I used to take), a set of these tiny forks, and a set of tiny spoons. Only the fork remains. (I can’t seem to find the belt either.)

I love these scalloped-bowled spoons from an antique store on Cape Cod.

scalloped spoons

scalloped spoons

I don’t use these for tasting. They come to the table to accompany condiment dishes, like the extra grated cheese for pasta or the arugula-pine nut pesto to go with the pork tenderloin or cocktail sauce for shrimp. There was always just the two.

Not sure where these two came from but I love their soup-spoon-like shape.

soup spoon-shaped

soup spoon-shaped

There’s a restaurant store in town. Half the warehouse is filled with the contents of old restaurants. The other half, new appliances and tools. I got this set for just $2 there!

restaurant store set

restaurant store set

These forks were from TJ Maxx…

TJ Maxx forks

TJ Maxx forks

And these my mom gave me a million years ago…

seafood forks

seafood forks

I put them out when we’re having clams on the half shell, but no one uses them, they just slurp.

Speaking of TJ Maxx. I find all kinds of Italian imports in their housewares section. Beautifully painted ceramic dishes and bowls. And even pasta tools and colanders. I found these Italian tiny wooden spoons at TJ Maxx.

Italian wooden spoons

Italian wooden spoons

They had a tag in Italian telling of the type of wood and where they’re from (tag is gone and I don’t remember!), and a rustic string that held them all together by the holes in the handles.

My friend Peggy Cosgrave gave me the little cauldron where I keep the spoons.

Peggy's cauldron

Peggy’s cauldron

It doesn’t have a flat bottom so it tends to rock from side to side. But now that my spoon-fork collection barely fits in there, the copper cauldron stays pretty steady.

Oh, and I just found these at the dollar store yesterday. Packs of tiny spoons and tiny forks.

dollar store spoons and forks

dollar store spoons and forks

They’re really thin plastic made to look like silver flatware. I won’t add these to the collection but they’ll get used somehow. They just look so cute in the package!

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