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Spoon Stories: The tiny mustard spoons of France

The tiny mustard spoons of France.

In the summer, in the southwest of France, life at my sister-in-law's house in the hamlet of Amiel moves to its own rhythm.

Unless we've planned a road trip, each day unfolds pretty much like this: wake up, head for whichever town has a market that day, find a cafe, have strong coffee and a pastry, and choose a restaurant for lunch -- a decision often left to my brother-in-law, as he is fond of the leisurely French midday meal. With the day's most important decision made, we stroll through the market and buy food for dinner, by which time we're ready for the long lunch. (Do you detect a theme here?)

Back at the house, we nap, of course. Garden a bit. Read, relax, or maybe head to Penne for a drink at the restaurant at the top of the hill. And then we make dinner.

The next morning, we repeat, driving to whichever town has its market day. On Wednesday or Saturday mornings, that means Montauban, the capital of the Tarn-et-Garonne département.

I couldn't resist buying these tiny mustard spoons (in the top photo) from a mustard seller at the Montauban market when we were there years ago. The spoons are less than four inches long, in two styles, bowls or paddles. I'm sure he didn't carve them, but someone did; they're all in the traditional style, but each one differs slightly from the next.

The three spoons in the photo below are obviously factory-made. And they're marked "France", which makes me suspect they might have been manufactured here in the United States, where I purchased them in a gourmet shop.

Mustard spoons from France.

It could be my imagination, but whenever I use my tiny spoons from Montauban for mustard or jam, I think the food tastes more, well... French.

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Ah, leave it to the French to come up with irresistibly appealing mustard spoons.

Interesting what has been created for a specific food. I still have something my mother calls a mustard dish. It's glass with a metal lid and dish it sits on. It needs a mustard spoon!

I love these!!! Heaven forbid I decide to start collecting tiny wooden spoons though. The whisk collection is taking over my kitchen already.

I have been the proud owner of such a spoon for many may years. I am sure I bought it back in the days when a trip to France was a far-off dream...

So cute. I've never seen anything like this before, but now I'll be on the lookout for them.

Lovely... and loving the pace of your visits.

Susan, the French also come up with the best mustards in the world, to go with these tiny spoons!

Kellypea, I know just what you mean about those bowls. I always wondered why they had a metal top. Do you know?

Barefeet, a whisk collection definitely can take up a lot of room. Not that my spoon collection doesn't -- but I have old ceramic mugs filled with little spoons that sit on a shelf above the stove, because they're too small to go into the regular spoon rack.

Mimi, I'm sure you have wonderful French mustards, jams, etc., to enjoy with your spoon. Do you remember where you bought it? Each market is so different, but the spoon shape never changes very much.

Kalyn, if you go to France or have a friend going, these tiny spoons are great souvenirs -- so easy to pack!

Susan, it takes a day or two after arrival for us to really settle into the rhythm, but once we do, it feels completely right. And, of course, it's all about knowing where our next meal is coming from.

These spoons came with my salt cellars, didn't know they were for mustard

what adorable little spoons! it's great that you have family in France. It was great catching up with you at Blogher food, Lydia!

Well for Pete's sake I had two of those and I always used them in my bulk sea salt container. One broke about 22 years back, but I still have one, the handle has warped from use in the last 30+ years, and not once during all those years did I use them for mustard.

Rhonda, I got one of these with a pot of herbes de Provence, too!

Veron, lovely to see you at BH Food, too. I'm sad to say we don't get to France very often, despite having a free place to stay in the south.

AZ, a good spoon (of any size) should be used for more than one thing. I use the little paddle-shaped ones for jam, too.

Those look so neat. I couldn't have resisted buying them either. ;-) Those days in France sound idyllic for sure.

Hi Lydia, those adorable little spoons are turned on a very small lathe, then the top of the bowl is sliced off and the bowl is drilled in. Do you see the circle on the tip of the handle? That's where it was attached to the lathe. What a great use for tiny pieces of wood!

PS my customers really enjoyed the first spoon story! Thanks so much.

I found one of the wooden spoons at a market in Cahors. I didn't know it was a mustard spoon; I use it for salt. I didn't know you had a southwest France connection, Lydia. I adore it there, anywhere!

Shirley, there is something seductive about the rhythm of life in Amiel. It's hard to re-enter our more hectic pace here.

Meb, thanks for the technical info. The spoons are so tiny that it's hard to imagine being able to turn them on a lathe. Stay tuned; more spoon stories are coming.

Christine, I've seen the spoons used for salt, herbs, jam and mustard. Mine came from a mustard seller, so I've always called them mustard spoons. Sadly we don't use our France connection much. Must remedy that.

Those little wooden spoons are adorable and if I ever visit France, that is exactly how I'd like to spend my vacation there!

How neat! I love wooden utensils with interesting shapes like these spoons. My dad took up wood working and carving as a hobby, maybe I should cajole him into making some of these, and a few bowls, too. ;-)

Holy Batman! As soon as the cover photo loaded up I realized that I had two of those very spoons sitting in some mason jars on my mantle!! I can't remember where I got them - at some tag sale-flea market-yard sale - trash N treasure shop no doubt! I never knew what they were for and now I do!! I am sending an email on the side to you with ics of mine! SO EXCITING!!!!

Yup, I've got one too! I use it for my salt. Love the story - why isn't life like that everywhere, sigh.... Thanks for sharing!

Gina, one great thing about collecting spoons is that they're easy to carry home, and they always remind you of where you bought them.

Andrea, absolutely get your dad to make some spoons. You will treasure them forever and pass them down to your kids.

Carol, I love that you have these little spoons too!

Kristen, and I love that you also have a little spoon! Aren't we all so lucky?

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