Slow Food Gadgeteer Part 4: SPATULAS, FLIPULAS, and MORE | Civil Eats

Slow Food Gadgeteer Part 4: SPATULAS, FLIPULAS, and MORE

So if you could choose only one, which would it be? A spatula, flatula, flipula, rubbula or shovula?

Take your time! Naturally, you love your spatula, that great old-fashioned enabler of eggs over-easy. But the Slow Food Gadgeteer asks you to consider several permutations, their names and identities courtesy of a young architect friend, Ashton Allan, who likes to flip pancakes and more.

The wooden flatula, with its clean, square edge, leaves no corner of a pan untouched as it keeps a thickening custard in constant motion. Neat.

Flipulas have a little give, the better to tenderly nudge a meatball onto its uncooked side. And a rubbula, which my husband’s 90-year-old aunt calls a child cheater, assures that no batter is left behind.

But do not overlook the virtues of a shovula, a narrow, rectangular scooper, which can extract the last bit of yogurt out of a container before it is taken to the recycling bin.

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The word spatula dates to 1525, according to my Oxford English Dictionary, which fortunately came with its own gadget, a magnifying glass. The word spatula is related to “spade,” the OED notes, adding that the roseate spoonbill was once known as the spatula bird.

None of these should be confused with a metal device found in chemistry labs called the scoopula. Look at one long enough, however, and you may want to invent a use for it so you’ll have an excuse to buy one. I’m thinking it might be just the thing for funneling runaway peppercorns into a mill.

Deborah Baldwin is a New York writer who does some of her best thinking in the kitchen.

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  1. andrew
    Mr Allan is wise to request some semantic definition of the word spatula versus the various forms that the word is commonly used to describe. Everyone reading this should understand the confusion that the seemingly simple question of asking for a spatula can cause, and I hope everyone appreciates the guidance this article provides.

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