Wooden spoons and cherries may be two odd kitchen pet peeves, but they were mine when I wrote my first cookbook, “The New Pastry Cook”, published by William Morrow in 1986. They still are. I had a marvelous editor, Narcisse Chamberlain. She was a seasoned professional who took a novice cookbook writer (me) and honed a book of, at the time, brand new ways of thinking about pastry. She taught me much but there were two things that became my pet peeves – wooden spoons and cherries.
There were only two things about which we disagreed. I won one and lost one. The first peeve is wooden spoons in a pastry kitchen. I can’t for the life of me see why anyone would want to use a wooden spoon for anything except propping an oven door open to cool it off. They are inherently difficult to get really clean because they are so porous and they harbor the flavors of whatever they were used for last. If you were stirring onions and garlic, those are the flavors that will be transferred to your pastry even though you washed it. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want a delicate pastry cream, crème anglaise or milk heating for a yeast bread flavored with onions and garlic. Narcisse wanted me to specify a wooden spoon for the Pate a Chou (cream puff pastry) in the book. In those days, everything was done by mail or phone. So a flurry of letters back and forth settled the matter since she couldn’t come up with a reason other that it was quieter. One for me! The second pet peeve was using candied violets instead of marachino cherries. Call me gauche or unworldly, but why is a flower picked from the field, dipped in egg white, unwashed, and then plopped in sugar any better than a cherry that has been bleached and then colored red. I know they use a different red than they used to and that is fine, but I happen to love marachino cherries. Fortunately, I don’t think the violets are used anymore. At least I hope not. I lost this one. We put violets in the book. Narcisse was far more sophisticated than her Midwest protégé and I loved her for it! One of my favorite treats is vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce, lots of marachino cherries and juice from the jar. If there is a moral to this, it is that if you absolutely must use wooden spoons for pastry, then keep a separate set for pastry making. But keep the cherries! So now you know my pet peeves in the kitchen are wooden spoons and cherries. We all have pet peeves in the kitchen, what are yours? I’ll look forward to reading them in the comment area so we can all enjoy them.