Causing a Stir
The Secret Lives and Loves of Kitchen Utensils
By PRARTHO SERENO
By BILL DUNCAN
Most people simply look at a knife, fork and spoon as a utilitarian set of eating utensils, but not artist/poet Prartho Sereno. She sees magic and says, “…if the magic has fallen from your life and you find yourself walking the dotted lines or linear thought, living as if you’ve seen the movie and know how the story will end, it’s time to have a dance with the whisk, or the spatula, or the slotted spoon.”
Prartho finds poetic magic in these simple tools of every kitchen and writes and illustrates one of the most unique, clever and entertaining books on the market today. It is a book that begs to be read aloud with all the rhythm and play on words that this gifted artist/writer has achieved with the most simple everyday kitchen tools.
“As America migrates back to the kitchen in search of simplicity, nutrition and old fashioned warmth,” she writes, “I seek to bring a nourishing new wizardry to the table.” Not only does she have the writing and artistic skills to achieve that goal, but also the kitchen expertise. Along with painting and poetry, she has been head cook in a vegetarian restaurant in the Bay Area of California where she gained familiarity with each tool she brings to life in words and pictures. She lives in San Anselmo, Calif.
The book has 26 watercolor paintings printed on each facing page of 26 poems that tell the story of each utensil.
Prartho teaches poetry writing at the College of Marin in California. It is from one of those class assignments she got the idea for this book. “I had my students write to personify the soup spoon,” she said in an interview with Currents. “I had always jokingly said that when you open a kitchen drawer the spoon is always a woman and the fork is a man.”
In her descriptive writing, she personifies each kitchen device. The Slotted Spoon understands the sorcery of tears; the Whisk has mastered the secret of breath and spin; the Spatula knows the alchemy of turning work into play; the dinner fork is an incurable dreamer. The Soup Spoon can’t help but give everything away. The Pickle Fork is heart broken over the Ice Tea Spoon’s cold shoulder.
“I began to see how every one is needed, the sharp wit of the grapefruit spoon, the straight spine of the dinner knife, the dance of the salad servers,” she said. “It has been almost four years since the Soup Spoon
first spoke to me. Then the Fork, the Teaspoon, the Knife each coming forward entrusting me with its story.”
Even the lowly measuring spoons come to life when Prartho writes of them as “…this little band of gypsies is a caravan of women in love with the color and fragrance of all the world. Tuned to the earth’s dark gifts – seed pods and tree bark, root and leaf – they bend over backward to bring you the mysteries that speak to the back of your tongue.”
She is also the author of a chapbook of poems, “Garden Sutra,” and a collection on inspirational essays, “Everyday Miracles.”
If you didn’t think the gadgets in your kitchen drawer had personalities you will after reading this book. It is the perfect gift for anyone who loves the art of cooking.
(Bill Duncan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to P.O. Box 812, Roseburg, OR 97470)
Chinese Soup Spoon
The Porcelain Princess has always spoken little
and understood much. Perhaps because the potter,
when he formed her from clay,
hid the secret of friendship inside her.
Take everything with a few grains of rice