This One Cooking Tool Is Essential To Healthy Latin American Cuisine

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Wooden spoons are among the most universal cooking instruments, with countless design variations since ancient times. Next to pottery, beads, and textile fibers, archaeologists have discovered these sculptural spoons in Egyptian tombs as well as preserved Bronze Age buildings in Northern Europe, demonstrating how this tool has been a part of the broad human experience for millennia.

But let’s talk wood. Whether it’s for artistic (hello woodworking), practical, or culinary purposes, wooden spoons’ appeal in Latin America isn’t just about the host of shapes, grips, and sizes available for the task at hand. The types of wood, finish, and environmental impact (biodegradable, renewably-sourced, compostable, etc.) are some essential factors when choosing a wooden spoon.

Some of the most durable, beautiful hardwoods (think olive, maple, and even tree-like bamboo) come from temperate forests and are generally characterized by their uniquely attractive grain or striation. In Costa Rica, for example, caoba, nogal, teca, cocobolo, and palisandro are thought of as some of the most highly-revered hardwoods because of their aesthetic, strong, and sustainable qualities. 

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