Can’t take the kid out of the kitchen

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Licking the bowl is a childhood habit that’s hard break (iStockphoto)

Licking uncooked cake batter from the beaters of a hand mixer was an evocative moment. There i was, standing in a kitchen badly in need of renovation in a recently purchased home, licking pre-baked banana bread mixture from a cooking implement like a child.

The mixture was sweet and kind of pleasant: edible but not irresistible. So what made me raise those beaters to my lips and lick?

It was a reflex born in my mother’s kitchen thirty-odd years ago. It wouldn’t have been pre-cooked banana bread mix back then, rather the creamy batter of the family-favoured walnut cake or, better still, the coffee-flavoured butter cream that would sandwich the two, fat halves together.

Or it could have been whipped cream for a trifle, or perhaps remnants of a hastily prepared packet-mix lemon cheesecake, which often surfaced for Sunday tea, clinging to a spatula or spoon.

I would have been hovering around the mixing bowl like a butterfly, in anticipation. I might have had to share the spoils with a sibling — we probably argued over who got more — or relished it all to myself.

Occasionally my mother would throw the battered-splattered implements straight into the soap-sudded washing up bowl without thinking, foiling our lip-smacking plans.

Were the rewards sweeter then? To a child’s immature palate and sugar tooth, the pre-baked cake batter was an irresistible treat, and something that was probably relished all the more because ‘licking the bowl’ flouted the usual rules around eating and table manners.

I can’t say the practice is equally pleasurable today — i get my food fixes in other ways. But it instils  contentedness and sparks happy memories. It’s also a deeply ingrained childhood habit that’s difficult to break.

Do you still lick the spoon, or even the bowl — or both?

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18 Comments

Filed under Reflections

18 responses to “Can’t take the kid out of the kitchen

  1. Rachel, what a charming post that evokes so many memories for me, and, I’m sure, other readers. I can remember licking my mother’s wooden spoons and rotary whisk (we didn’t have an electric beater, not because they hadn’t been invented, lol, we simply didn’t have one… and, incidentally, I still have the rotary whisk)… often the mixture was a chocolate walnut ganache cream ready to fill a layered cake or something equally as delicious. These days, I offer the beaters to my Peter as a treat. He loves it too. Thank you for writing such a lovely post, my friend.

    • Thanks Lizzy. I just caught myself doing it and wondered why on earth i was. Hard habit to break, i guess. It’s lovely that you still have your mother’s rotary whisk … lots of childhood kitchen memories for you too. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Wayne heeley

    In fact I was licking the spoon/ bowl yesterday after making a chocolate whisky cake and remembering similar childhood experiences (without the whisky, sadly).
    Oh, and the cake is on my desk so you’ll get to try it later ;)

  3. I am a big believer in bowl/spoon/beater/finger licking. nothing to be ashamed of. a childish joy for an adult, but a joy nonetheless!!

  4. Love those comments so far… delicious!

  5. Yep, still do it too. I learnt something interesting a few months back attending a Performance Space arts “cooking” challenge judged by a CWA rep. She reckons you should never include the bits of batter at the bottom of the mixing bowl into the cake tin as they’re sometimes not incorporated properly. And that’s good enough for me!

  6. My motto – no food wastage. So bowl-beater licking is always allowed in my household.

  7. Oh my goodness! I absolutely still lick the bowl/beater/spatula and yes, it is absolutely the best part of making anything (try the raw filling for a pecan pie … delicious). My only regret is that I have toddler and I’ve already had to start sharing the batter …

  8. I still do it.. and I dont know why.. I dont even think before I do it!! :)) But thats the thing with food.. there are always so many memories attached with it.. that it is so evocative when you are working with food!! Thanks for dropping by earlier!!

    • Exactly, i didn’t think before i did it either. Then suddenly thought ‘what ON EARTH are you doing?’ Had no reason other than it was an inexplicably nice thing to do. Good feeling. And no one to have to share it with!

  9. I always like the spoon or the beaters and reading about your disappointment at your mum throwing the tools in the washing up brought back the shocking memory of it happening to my brother and me! It was as if our world (for a few seconds) had sunk into the washing up along with the wooden spoon – devastating…

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