a pilgrimage and a gift

May 22, 2013

On a recent visit to San Francisco, Al surprised me with a trip to what turned out to be a culinary experience of a lifetime at State Bird Provisions. As reservations were not to be had on such short notice, we arrived at the early hour of 5pm seeking two of the coveted 16 bar seats granted on a first-come-first-served basis. The restaurant didn’t open until 5:30, so we had plenty of time to meet the other eager diners in line.

The young, sharply dressed man in front of us had come from LA. Polite conversation revealed that he had dined at many of the country’s best restaurants, so often that he referred to all the chefs by first name. “Oh, so you’re, like, a foodie,” I offered. He winced. “I hate that term,” he explained as patiently as possible given that I had just deeply offended him. “It implies that one is in it as much for the scene as for the food, that your interest is merely trendy, or trite.” I understood. “Oh, so you’re more like a pilgrim,” I stated. “Yes!” he agreed. And as he savored his new moniker, I went on. “I just made a pilgrimage to buy a wooden spoon.” He laughed. I could tell he could relate.

The grail that inspired my quest was one of Josh Vogel’s hand carved spoons, which I knew were available only at the Bay City’s MARCH. Thus Al and I trekked there on my first day, where I secured one of the last of Josh’s limited edition “sculptural cooking tools.” It was a lot to pay for a spoon, but it’s really more of a piece of art… that you use, and I like that. I love the combination of grace and wonkiness of Josh’s irregular carvings. The spoon is beautifully balanced in the hand and as smooth to the touch as baby’s skin. My Blackcreek Mercantile spoon has now earned a place over my new sink. There it brings me joy on a daily basis.

And now it has friends.

Arriving home, happy with new spoon in hand, I found waiting for me a mysterious package sent via Royale Mail. Inside were three exquisite bone spoons from Africa, a gift from Kirsten Hecktermann, another spoon guru that I worship. These, too, are graceful and lithe both in form and finish. The white faces are cool and pristine, but also warm to the touch. These cherished items now sit next to Josh’s spoon, propped in glass my husband gave me.

If you ever wonder why there is such a boom in design these days, you need look no further than objects like these lovely spoons, and be cognizant of the joy they inspire. Such simple things, possessed of the power to transcend. They are literally “full of grace.”

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