FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
By Jill McDonald-Constable (AKA 'English Rose')
Greetings all!! And huge thanks to Kathleen!!
Today I want to start off my post by talking about one of my favourite subjects – FOOD! I really like food. I collect cookery books and have about 200 of them! I even took a Cordon Bleu Cookery Course after leaving school. I read cook books like other people read novels, and I can almost taste what a recipe will be like from just looking at the ingredients. I have even been known to take a cook book to bed with me. I know! Weird or what?
Being a country girl at heart, and having lived on farms and smallholdings most of my life, I was often surrounded by large quantities of wild foods, and made the most of it all, as well as all the produce we grew ourselves, and anything else I could get hold of. (Pigeons are pest, and the farmers here will pay men to go out and shoot them, and rabbits, so they don’t decimate the crops, I like pigeon and rabbit! Once we lived on a farm with a large lake filled with trout. I like trout too!)
I do have some help in the kitchen sometimes, as you can see, though often they are more of a hindrance!
This is my favourite chef, Garcon, ready to spring into action!
Anyway, the purpose of this introduction is by way of a small research project for me, and to lead us on to the subject of cowboy food! Being a Brit who only knows about cowboys from the films I watched, (which really didn’t dwell much on food) I know my knowledge of this subject is dismally lacking.
After reading Sarah McNeal’s post a little while back, about blunders in research, and the comments that followed, I think I am now developing a sense of paranoia about getting these little details as correct as possible. Your fault, Sarah! (LOL!) And yes I know I could read books, search the web and such, and I do, but there’s nothing like listening to real people telling you their real experiences is there?
All the ladies of PRP are prolific authors and I haven’t yet had the chance to read every one of all the books you have produced! Looking at the list, it’s going to take me years! Therefore, I haven’t had the chance to see if the subject of food is covered in more than just one or two, however, I also know what a helpful lot of ladies you are, therefore I am sure that my new ‘man’ will be prepared with all the right foods when he sets off on his long trip to the sea!
(LOL! Sorry, just had a mental picture of a load of rough tough gunslingers at the seaside, building sandcastles! There’s that weird sense of humor of mine again! I do apologize.)
Teddy having a rest before cooking the Harvest!
I do have a lot of questions about the types of food my latest hero would be carrying. Be prepared now, my questions will be coming at you like bullets from a Gatling gun! So, here I am, pen and paper at the ready and waiting for your stories.
I am not counting, of course, the groups of men on the cattle drives, as they had a tuck wagon and a cook to feed them, likewise the wagon trains were mostly well equipped. I just want to know about a single man, travelling a long way on horseback, alone.
What did they eat when they were wandering the country alone? What food did they carry in their packs? We all know about cowboy beans and bacon, and it’s often made fun of in films, but would a lone cowboy be able to carry those items? Bacon would go sour wouldn’t it, and most dried beans need soaking for hours, so they wouldn’t really be a viable proposition if he was in any sort of hurry. Surely, he didn’t carry pans, skillets, or a Dutch oven with him, did he?
We know about ‘jerky’ and ‘pemmican’. (I believe they are slightly different things. Or is it the same thing with different names in different parts of the country?) And are fruit ‘leathers’ a new thing, or would something like that have been available to my man? Would they go sour? How much could be carried? We did have a very interesting conversation on the PRP site recently regarding ‘grits’, I thank you for that ladies, but would a man carry them? Or flour? What would he do for bread?
Obviously, the man would stock up on his provisions whenever he reached a town, but what things would he stock upon? There would be a certain amount of wild food for shooting or gathering, I know. The things he could shoot or gather would probably be different according to where he was in the country though wouldn’t they?
It intrigues me that one small food item can have so many different names depending on where in the country it is being cooked. For instance, here in UK we have a floury white bread roll, using exactly the same ingredients, with slight variations in size and shape from county to county, but with a huge variety of names. Baps, floury baps, bread rolls, burger rolls, oven bottom muffins, sandwich rolls, barm cakes (yes ‘m’ not ‘n’) batch roll, stottie cake, cob roll, finger roll – and – well I think you get the picture!
What one item do you have like that in USA? Would a lone cowboy be able to carry it, or the ingredients to make it?
Is there one old ‘cowboy’ food item that you still enjoy eating today? If not, just share with us, what is your favourite food? I think my favourite main meal must be poached salmon, on a big fat bed of home-grown salad leaves, with garlic mayo, followed by a very unhealthy Eton Mess. ‘Scuse me a sec, just got to wipe the drool off the keyboard!
Oh, that’s such a lot of questions. I’m a nosy parker! There is just one last question though. - Why do most of my posts have questions in them?
Thanks so much for coming by ladies, and for helping out a ‘forriner’ to your culture. Bless you all.