maandag 13 mei 2013

Chuck Wagons

The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink

Linked inextricably with the story of the chuck wagon is the tale of the stereotypical camp cook, often dubbed "coosie", from the Spanish cocinero. Coosie was notoriously temperamental, often in trouble with the law, and of dubious culinary skill. A good cook was a treasure on the trail and a major perquisite. The men would go out of their way to keep a good cook happy by cleaning his dishes, gathering firewood, and, most important, respecting the cook's domain, the chuck wagon. A good cook would lure cowboys to work for the tastier outfits. Even a bad cook, though, was respected on the trail, as a cowboy complaining about the food or inciting the cook to quit would be promptly rewarded with his apron and "gouch hook" (pothook) and asked to demonstrate how things should be done. Both derivisly and lovingly called "old woman" or "old lady" (Adams, p. 54), the cook "was doctor, dentist, and older brother, and it was he who dosed the cowboys when they were ill, heard them when they were depressed, or amused them when they were bored" (Durham and Jones, The Negro cowboys, p. 50).