The way words twist together can tell us a lot about where we're from and how we did things in the past. This is especially true when it comes to food.
In his book The Language of Food, Dan Jurafsky looks at many of these linguistic ties to our roots and how the food and the words we use to describe it are so closely linked. One of the most interesting sections focuses on soup.
To think about soup as we know it today, we also have to think about bread. In Medieval times and even before in some cases, bread was often put into warm, spiced wine or sometimes ale. This bread was called sop.
At some point, that liquid became less of a beverage and more of a meal. Likewise, the word for the bread became more associated with the actual broth. Sop became suppa in Latin and later soupe in French. In Old French, the word soper meant "to have supper," which was a lighter evening meal that often consisted of, of course, soup.
As language and food are so closely linked, so too are the utensils we use to eat our food. When one thinks of soup, a bowl and a spoon come to mind. Throughout time and in different regions of the world, two distinct types of soup spoons emerged.
The Chinese soup spoon has a larger, more distinctive shape. Usually made of ceramic, its ladle-like form can be traced back as early as the Shang dynasty in the second millennium B.C.E.
The English or western version has a large, rounded bowl. It was created in the Victorian era, and is roughly the size of a dessert spoon. The western soup spoon is more circular and is deeper so it can better hold liquid than its dessert counterpart. The western soup spoon is the type found in the BauscherHepp portfolio.
How to Choose a Soup Spoon
To begin, consider what type of cuisine or aesthetic you're looking to achieve. If you're looking for Asian influence or are serving traditional Asian dishes, a Chinese soup spoon would obviously be a better choice, though creative uses can also work in many western-minded meals.
For the Western soup spoon, consider size, construct, materials, and patterns. Selecting the right flatware is a very personal decision. Making sure it's functional, durable, and meets your aesthetic are the critical first steps.
If you're looking for more information on selecting a western-style soup spoon or flatware in general, we've put together a free guide that will walk you through other important factors.
Read through the important considerations in the Flatware Selection Tips.