when thousands of world line up because that biscuits, eggs, sausage and also bacon at the yearly Cowboy Breakfast, a celebratory and also fundraising occasion for scholarships come St. Phillips College now in that 40th year, it way rodeo season is upon us. next from being an opportunity to cheer top top 7-year-olds clinching top top sheep’s coats together they journey the pet before getting knocked off, or to watch her favorite band, or inspect out new livestock — the 17-day occasion is a chance to chomp top top rodeo food.

You are watching: What did cowboys eat on cattle drives

Turkey legs, fajitas, barbecue and over-the-top desserts are all ~ above the menu, but this modern-day feast wasn"t how vaqueros make their way through Texas. Exactly how did cowboys eat while herding cattle on trails from south Texas to the North? because that Ed Parsons, a people champion chuckwagon cook, answering the question and keeping cowboy food culture alive is what he strives come do. unequal the variety of foodstuffs prepared for cowboys today, the staples that the 1800s and also early 1900s were beans and also usually a kind of bread, such as pan de campo cooking on a skillet. Beans, indigenous to indigenous human being of Mexico and central America, were simple to transport much, like flour, baking powder and salt. These along with a little bit the sugar, coffee and perhaps jerky were the staples of the chuckwagon pantry. “They couldn’t bring fresh meat, but may have actually prepared deer or antelope the a cowboy killed,” Parsons said. Because that breakfast, hot coffee “so thick you have the right to float a horseshoe top top it.” The food, similar to the cowboy’s clothes, tools and corralling techniques, was influenced by the vaqueros the Texas. “The cooks to be Mexican ... We had a lot to learn from them,” Parsons said. Parson"s pan de campo recipe originates from Jerry Baird, his mentor and also a renowned chuckwagon cook. Baird, who at 78 years old proceeds to cook on a chuckwagon because that charity events, stated he choose up the recipes from the countless cooks, including Latin chefs, he operated with end the year on ranches. The mexican influence can be found in bowl such as “Son the a total Stew” — a soup make of an pet heart, liver, and tripe, the said. This no sound much off from abuela’s menudo. designed by Charles Goodnight after ~ the civil War, chuckwagons to be a army wagon with a trunk added to that that brought food, food preparation supplies, a an initial aid kit and driven by the cook who rode along the cowboys ~ above the cattle trail, follow to the American lining Wagon association website. (Oh, and thanks to Jerry Baird, lobbyist David Holt in addition to other chuckwagon aficionados from the American chuck Wagon Association, the chuckwagon became the official vehicle of Texas in 2005.) as well as feeding their fellow cowboys, cooks played plenty of roles, including doctor, nurse and pharmacist. Parsons said a chuckwagon cook"s reputation could aid a cowboy determine which ranch to occupational for. “San Antonio was a major hub where a cook could gather provides to feed 10 come 15 cowboys because that a drive of thousands of cattle that can last as much as 30 days,” Parsons said. To meet the demand for beef up north, before the use of railroads to move cattle,after the Civil war cowboys rode paths such together the Chisolm Trail from Texas up to livestock houses in Kansas, said Sarah Gould, academy of Texan Cultures, lead curatorial researcher. friend won"t need to don chaps or a cowboy hat to try chuckwagon cooking during this year"s rodeo. Have a minimum group size the 15 and also you can select a meal such as“Buck"s sourdough chicken fried steak,” a chicken and also beef fajita dinner, a 12-ounce Angus ribeye steak dinner or “Not your Grandma"s Pot Roast Dinner”all cooked utilizing an open up fire or in a dutch stove – the cowboy way. Prices selection from $28 come $40 every person and include service and also gratuity.
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Courtesy of institute of Texan cultures
similar to what a an excellent meal does come fuel her rodeo experience, fora successful cattle drive, a ranch had actually to “have a good wagon and a good cook to keep world together, come keep people going,” Baird said. and check out this video clip from the Briscoe Western arts Museum to hear Parsons talk more about his chuckwagon.

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