Bear Claws

Bear Claws

This post has been eight years in the making.

Eight years ago, Maxence and I visited friends in London. On the night we arrived, Zoe made lasagna and a big green salad, which she proceeded to toss in the bowl using two gorgeous wooden instruments, shaped like four-clawed bear paws.

If this had been a cartoon, you would have seen me hypnotically drilling my gaze into her hands, red and white spirals spinning in my eyes. “Where does one find those?” I asked, hoping they were a London treasure I could hunt for. “Oh, the bear claws? I got them as a gift back in the US,” she explained. If this had been a cartoon, you would have seen the balloon of my hopes deflating with that elegant sound balloons make when they deflate, and falling, a limp rubber thing, to the ground.

Ah well. This did nothing to detract from the pleasures of the London weekend, and I put the bear claws out of my mind.

Fast forward eight years, and I found myself spending time in Canada, in Stratford, Ontario to be exact. And on my very first day there, while walking around the city center, my eyes locked with a stack of the long-yearned-for utensils in the window of a Canadian arts and crafts shop.

I couldn’t believe my luck. I bolted inside, and excitedly purchased a set.

Bear claws are made by a company called Kootenay Spoons in British Columbia, the westernmost province of Canada, where they’re handcrafted from beautiful birch wood and finished with walnut oil, and have been since the mid-eighties.

I’ve now had a chance to test drive my bear claws at home, and I couldn’t be happier with them: they’re very pleasant to handle, and I love the feeling of control that you get from having your hands very near the food. It seems the closest you can get without actually using your own hands to dress the salad (which some people do, but I dislike the sensation).

In addition to salads, the label suggests using bear claws to toss rice and bean dishes, lift pasta from the pot (long pasta, I presume), drain hot vegetables, and lift roasts from the pan.

Like all wooden utensils (ahem), bear claws should not be placed in the dishwasher, but simply brushed clean in soapy water, and rubbed with olive or walnut oil every once in a while to keep the wood shiny and happy like the people.

Have you ever come across these bear claws and used them? What did you think?

Note: Kootenay Spoons sells bear claws and other wooden utensils on their Etsy shop.

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