Kelly Van De Walle: A turn for the worse

Professional or even amateur chefs grow accustomed to kitchen utensils that they like. Whether that’s a $400 knife or an old wooden spoon, favorites emerge and they become regular culinary companions. For me, that was a green plastic spatula I’d use whenever mixing batters, marinades or frostings. Unfortunately, during a particularly tough cake batter, the handle snapped. Being a resourceful (see: cheap) fellow, I duct taped it back together and tried keeping it out of my wife’s eyeline knowing if she spotted it my friend would meet the same untimely end as socks or underwear that go missing before what I deem to be their true expiration date.

I had been content to use the taped version, and then eventually the stub, figuring getting frosting or pancake batter on my thumbs was a bonus. Then one day my stub mysteriously went missing.

“I threw it away,” my wife said like this was no big deal.

“You … never throw away a man’s spatula,” I replied, mentally adding this to my mental rolodex of ways I’ve been wronged.

She calmed me down by saying a replacement was on the way so I only had to wait two days. Still, the withdrawals were ferocious. In spatula time two days is like nine years.

When it finally arrived, I opened the package and out exploded a package of FIVE assorted spatulas which, to me, seemed like more than one. I sought out the purchaser.

Reasonable Kelly: “Why did you buy five spatulas? Are you trying to bankrupt our family?”

Wife: “Well, we didn’t have any.”

Reasonable Kelly: “Why not just buy ONE? I don’t think I’ve ever been using a spatula and thought to myself, ‘You know what this job needs? More spatulas.’ We’re not the Rockafellers.”

Wife: “Well, WHAT IF WE NEED ANOTHER ONE?”

To be honest, this question has kept me up nights trying to imagine spatula-related emergencies.

Kidnapper: “I’m going to take your family and the only way you can rescue them is if you make cookies AND pancakes at the same time! Ha ha ha!”

My wife pointed out each spatula was a little different. Upon closer inspection, she was right. One was a half-spatula, as if it hadn’t yet reached maturity and sprouted the second lobe. The next was the standard spatula (known as the One True Spatula) followed by one with some odd convex nodule for reasons unknown followed by a ridiculous mega spatula presumably made for giants. The last piece in the set looked like a silicone brush but that couldn’t be because it was a “5-piece SPATULA set” but then I figured this is the 21st century and maybe brushes are now spatulas and I don’t even know how to survive anymore.

I found the only thing five spatulas are good for is to place each one in between your clenched fist so with your spatula claws you look like culinary Wolverine.

I jovially posted my wife’s quintuple utensil faux pas to Facebook so people could laugh, agree with me and also to provide Mark Zuckerberg with some critical data in order to steal my identity, influence my voting preference and push me sweet, sweet spatula deals. Shockingly, people on social media did not instantly agree with me. In fact, to my horror, people saw things from my wife’s perspective – that having more than one spatula was actually more of the norm, even though some couldn’t quite understand it either.

It’s obviously a conspiracy by Big Spatula to get suckers to pay more and Kanye and I are the only two that see it.

People started posting pictures, showing off their spatulas like hunters would prize kills. It seems the most common response as to the big question of, “Oh my God why?” is that you need different shapes for different recipes, which is ridiculous. The One Spatula is like a multi-tool and all you need. The rest are just luxuries and our house isn’t MTV Cribs-like to warrant such extravagances.

Imagine you have need of a plumber. You call and get a guy, Dave. Dave gets the job done every time. You don’t ALSO need Gary, who is slightly taller and more concave version of Dave. Thanks, Gary, Dave’s got it. And you definitely don’t need tiny, one-armed Herb who could probably get the job done but it’d take longer and creep everyone out.

You may look through your own utensils and find you have multiple spatulas, which is the result of two teenage spatulas being left unsupervised in a dark drawer.

Today all but one spatula has been banished elsewhere, mostly out of principal but also because if anything else goes into the utensil drawer it will collapse under its own weight.

Ultimately, this was an excellent learning experience. Not for me, of course. For my children on the topic of the dangers of social media: that an entire second world exists out there where their mother can apparently be right.

It should be noted that while I’m entirely unsure what the silicone part of a spatula is called, “lobe” sounds reasonably correct.

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Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at vandkel@hotmail.com