Saturday, August 20

Chapter 25

In Which We Again Discover the Long and Short of Spatula History

Few people know the true history of the spatula -- mostly because the literature on said subject is sadly lacking. So, to enlighten all who enter these shallow halls, I will expiate on the subject at hand.

The first spatulas date back to ancient Summaria in the Fertile Crescent to a date of 300 BC (or, 6.533478 BCE) to king Hashuarioun who was known for throwing a great Bar-B-Q (or, the ancient equivelent). The meat was prepared in strips as long as a man's arm (1 and 3/4 cubits), and doused in seasonings sprinkled on lightly with a sage branch. The main ingredients to the sauce are not well known, and so I will not bore you here with how they discovered the recipe, but will just list the main ingredients: Onion root, Barley, Beaten Maggots, and Soy Sauce.
The meat, when done, was removed using long swords, which often caused the meat to slip from the blade and fall intot he raging inferno below the clay grills on which they were placed. This mainly happened because of the amazing sharpness of the blades of the Summarian cooks. They kept them always polished to a sheen and razor's edge for filets and slicing up theives in the market-place. One day, one of the cooks realized that, were his blade a bit flatter, he could fit more ofthe meet onto the blade without the probability of it slipping off being as great (good thinkers, those Summarians). Thus began the Spatula (in the Summarian dialect: "cacgh'meg-fagh" spelled [*^^H;] because they were still using Cuneiform).

In 56 BC (26.4 BCE) the Greeks had conquored the world and spread the love and language everywhere known to man (except Oklahoma for some reason). The Polis of the Greek City-states were thriving, but the Greeks were almost done with their empire and making way for the Romans. The Summarians had long since been captured and their Bar-B-Q recipe stollen, and the technology of a flatter blade was picked up by the Turks by this time, though their blades were curved and better for skinning than Filleting. The original use for the [*^^H;] had long since been forgotten when a Roman citizen by the name of Dinarius was making flat-bread one afternoon. In those days, the lower-class citizens had very few cooking utensils, most of which consisted of long sticks. Dinarius, on the other hand, was rich, so his cooking utensils were long metal sticks: very long, and very annoying.
Dinarius was fed up with only using long metal sticks because they always made holes in his flat-bread when he was removing it from the cooking stone. He took his metal sticks (Called Volxitania) to a local Ironmonger, and had a hook put on the end of the thinner of the two, and make the other flat as he could. Using this method, he was able to first seperate his flat-bread from the coking-stone, and using the hook, to drag it towards him and the plate which would receive it.
Through trial and error on the part of the Romans, they discovered that a wider and flatter Volxitinia created a great way to pull the flat-bread out of the fire, thus reducing their number of needed cooking utensils to one... and a spoon. The two together were called the "Valtulia et Spon." From which we now derive their titles today.

The slotted spatula was a more recent discovery -- only invented in the 1750's in France.
It ssems the French chefs at that time cooked in greese, and tended to pull things right out of the oven and onto the plate using their "S'patulie" -- As wide as an oven, and as hefty as a bowling ball. This caused the hot greese to either splatter the cheff, causing him to curse in French and lose his head, or serve it to the master with hot greese, causeing the master to burn himself and the cheff to lose his head. A lose-lose situation for French Cheffs.
At the same time in Germany, the meat dumplings (Gerfingergrubben Heikenforscht) were just being invented. These were meat dumplings cooked in a tall canister of hot greese or oil; the dumplings were dropped in, and pulled out using a solid ladel, or a hooked metal rod (much similar to the Volxitania). This was a rather unpleasant way to do it because so much of the greese came up with the dumpling, that it was served as a soup, and allowed to cool for a good half-hour before serving. People did not like the greese, but the dumplings were excellent; however, there was so much complaining, that people only rarely ordered the Gerfingergrubben Heikenforscht, much to the dismay of the inventer: Heinrich Fingergrube.
In Norway there was a problem with their fish-soup having too many eye-balls and intestines floating around, and, to scoop them all out would take two days, durring which the soup went cold, and people got tired of waiting for the soup.
Enter the English inventer, Bertram the Just. He was on a vacation in Belgium at the world's first cullinary tasting expo. Each of these countries -- France, German, Norway -- were there with their dishes, and, as part of the entertainment, they were supposed to show how they made their foods (because cheffs don't really like being entertained anyhow).
The first country was Norway. Bertram saw the problem, and instantly devised the solution: cut slots in the ladel. This being done, the Norwegians were thrilled... until he tasted the soup, and found it was merely fish and water.
The next country was Germany, and Bertam solved their problem the same way: slotted spoons. The dish was re-prepared using the slotted spoon, and the Germans were very happy... until Bertram tried their dumplings... which were awful. It seems the greese it was served in actually kept the meatball tasting, if not god, at least better then the greese.
The next country was France, and the cheffs splattered greese all over themselves, and Bertram. He told them that they needed slots in their S'patulie, and, when once created, caused the creese to flow away before they removed it entirely from the oven, saving many a cheff, and patron. However, their food wasn't very good either, and Bertram left for England with his new inventions: the slotted spoon, the slotted ladel, and the "Spatula."

Little innovations have been made over the years, changing the spatula into the three main groups we see today: spreading spatulas (rubber, removable head: good for frosting cakes and scraping bowls because of the bending head -- invented by Cardinal Dorian Melbourne, of Ireland), slotted spatulas (typically plastic in entirety, or just thehead: good for frying eggs), and solid metal (good for removing pizzas, flipping sausage, bar-b-q-ing).
Many variations have also endured, such as the "fries basket" first developed for use in Happy Burger restaraunts across the nation, and the Solar Powered Seive which contains a small motor and two cross-action grates to sift flour -- though this is usually only available custom-order, or, often, on E-Bay.

Next week: the Spork.


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