I have a favorite spoon for cooking: a bamboo wooden “rice spoon” that my mother gave me long ago. I sincerely believe that my cooking is different–somehow, better–when I use this spoon. Stir-frying, oatmeal, soups, polenta, even frying an egg (for which it is not the ideal tool, but I use it anyway)– it all just feels better when I use that spoon.

It’s a darker color now, after all the washing and oil and butter and chicken broth and beef juices and garlic and onions and zucchini and bacon. The broad edge that makes contact with the hot pan is nearly blackened, worn-down at a slight angle from use. I love it.

It feels strange when I cook with a wooden spoon that doesn’t show similar scars of loving wear and tear.

There’s something in that bamboo spoon. My mother’s love? My love of cooking, imbued into it?

With cooking, as with most things in life, it always comes down to love, doesn’t it? I love my mother. I love cooking. I love cooking with that spoon.

And every enthusiast has their superstitions (neuroses) about their activity.