Why I like WWW

Posted by: MrB

Why I like WWW - 06/15/13 09:08 PM

I was researching food eaten during the Wild West and found this piece. It's about an English gentleman traveling the route and eating in the way stations of the Pony Express riders.

He has a way with words.

"'A weary drive over a rough and dusty road, through chill night air and clouds of mosquitoes...placed us about 10P.M. at Rock, also called Turkey Creek...After half an hour's dispute about who should do the work, they produced cold scraps of mutton and a kind of bread which deserves a totally distinct generic name. The strongest stomachs of the party made tea, and found some milk which was not more than one quarter flies. This succulent meal was followed by the usual douceur. On this road, however mean or wretched the fare, the station-keeper, who is established by the proprietor of the line, never derogates by lowering the price.'" (p. 99)

"...at Cold Spring Station...'the humans, observing that a 'beef' had been freshly killed, supped up an excellent steak." (p. 99)

"Nearly all occasions to dine filled [Burton] wish disgust. Burton enthusiastically describes the horrors of breakfast in western Nevada...'at Cotton Wood Station, we proceeded by means of an 'eye opener,' which even the abstemious judge could not decline, and the use of the 'skillet,' to prepare for a breakfast composed of various abominations, especially cakes of flour and grease, molasses and dirt, disposed in the pretty equal parts. After paying the usual $0.50, we started in the high wind and dust...The unsavory fare along the route whetted Burton's appetite for complaint. 'After satisfying hunger with vile bread and viler coffee...for which we paid 0.75...We dined at Plum Creek on buffalo, probably bull beef, the worst and driest meat, save elk, that I have ever tasted, indeed, without the assistance of pork fat, we found it hard to swallow.' Burton dismissed the reports of western travelers about the delights of eating buffalo steaks. 'The voyageurs and travelers who cry up the buffalo as delicious, have been living for weeks on rusty bacon and lean antelope.' he added. At Lodge-Pole Creek, the travelers attempted to eat antelope meat, which caused dyspepsia. Near Chimney Rock in western Nebraska, a welcome landmark for travelers crossing the prairies, the Burton party made to with 'a frugal dinner of biscuit and cheese.'" (p. 104-105)

"Breakfast never failed to disappoint Burton...In the endless reaches of western Nebraska, he had yet another bad breakfast upon landing at a station kept by Germans...'For a breakfast cooked in the usual manner, coffee boiled down to tannin...meat subjected to half sod, half stew, and lastly, bread, raised with sour milk corrected with soda, and so baked that the taste of the flour is ever prominent, we paid...$0.75.'...at a station near Fort Laramie...'Our breakfast was prepared in the usual prairie style. First the coffee--three parts burnt beans--which had been duly ground to a fine powder and exposed to the air, lest the aroma should prove too strong for us, was placed on the stove to simmer till every noxious principle was duly extracted from it. Then the rusty bacon, cut into thick slices, was thrown into the fry-pan; here the gridiron is unknown, and if known, would be little appreciated, because it wastes the 'drippings,' which form the staff of life in a luxurious sop. Thirdly, antelope steak, cut off a corpse suspended for the benefit of the flies outside, was placed to stew within influence of the bacon's aroma. Lastly came the bread, which of course should have been 'cooked' first. The meal is kneaded with water and a pinch of salt; the raising is down by means of a little sour milk, or more generally by the deleterious yeast-powders of the trade. The carbonic acid gas evolved by the addition of water must be corrected and the dough must be expanded by saleratus or prepared carbonate of soda and alkali, and other vile stuff, which communicates to the food a green-yellow tinge, and suggests many of the properties of poison. A hundredfold better, the unpretending chapati, flapjack scone, or as the Mexicans prettily call it, 'tortilla'! The dough after being sufficiently manipulated up a long, narrow smooth board is divided into 'biscuits' and 'doughnuts,' and finally it is placed to be half cooked under the immediate influence of the rusty bacon and gaveloent antelope. 'Uncle Sam's stove,' be it said with every reference for the honoured name it bears, is a triumph of convenience, cheapness, unwholesomeness and nastiness--excuse the word, nice reader. This travelers' bane has exterminated the spit and gridiron, and makes everything taste like its neighbour by virtue of it, mutton borrows the flavor of salmon-trout, tomatoes resolve themselves into greens--I shall lose my temper if the subject is not dropped.'" (p. 105-106)
[NOTES: (1) "Rusty" bacon in this context likely means rancid. (2) "Uncle Sam's Oven" described above approximates the "Dutch Oven," a ubiquitous, versatile cooking pot. (3) "sour milk biscuits" are most likely soda biscuits, a quick bread popular in frontier kitchens, both inside and camp, without traditional ovens. (4) According to the Measuring Worth inflation calculator, 50 cents in the USA/1860 would be equivalent to $13.30 in 2009. 75 cents equates to $20.00. A hefty price for breakfast, yes?]
Posted by: Stumpy1

Re: Why I like WWW - 06/15/13 11:44 PM

Not had any bad meals like that, lately. sick
Posted by: DLC

Re: Why I like WWW - 06/16/13 03:35 AM

Yeah not exactly iHOP or Waffle House ! sick

Posted by: Pirate

Re: Why I like WWW - 06/16/13 01:46 PM

Does make interesting reading....it is a wonder that anyone would live past the age of 25 in the old west if they ate like that every day....it had to be hard on the digestive system
Posted by: Celandine

Re: Why I like WWW - 06/16/13 08:27 PM

If You Enjoyed
Orphans Preferred
by Christopher Corbett

You might also enjoy
In A Sunburned Country
by Bill Bryson

As I've often said;
I really Enjoy a Good Story,
and even more so A Good Story Teller,
so happening upon an except from Downunder
lead to me buying the AudioBook on CD for myself.

Bill Bryson on Cricket:
[Excerpt from 'Down Under']

Down Under by Bill Bryson
Posted by: Celandine

Re: Why I like WWW - 06/16/13 08:58 PM

After reading me go on and on about Australia
one might assume that it's due to my friendship
with a certain early member of this & that forum,

it's rather a matter of
'which came first, the platypus or it's egg'

I was already nutz about The Wonderful Land of Oz
years before having met the bearded farmer online.

Indeed, we'd already been watching Aussey Rules on
late (LATE) nite TV while guzzling Foster's Lager,
and even attempting at several junctures, to move
there.... luckily further research proved that the
climate there is FAR to Harsh for us soft Americans.

but over the years, I've found that the more I learn
about the country and people, the more fascinated
I am with our tough-as-nails brethren from downunnda.

Everything about them is at once Exactly the Same yet
Totally Different. The place is Endlessly Fascinting.

Posted by: Pirate

Re: Why I like WWW - 06/17/13 11:29 PM

Reminds me of Lake Webegone
Posted by: Celandine

Re: Why I like WWW - 06/18/13 02:23 AM

Originally Posted By: Pirate
Reminds me of Lake Webegone

You're Right! grin

Bill Bryson -
In a Sunburned Country (short excerpt)

When I checked into my iTunes AudioBooks folder
I was reminded that actually, my initial introduction to
the narratives by Bill Bryson was through an excerpt of
"A Short History Of Nearly Everything"

3 of the most remarkable things I know
The final most remarkable thing I know
Posted by: Reboot

Re: Why I like WWW - 06/18/13 02:34 AM

I'm not used to thems kind of readins. It took a bit to decipher it. grin
Posted by: MrB

Re: Why I like WWW - 06/18/13 04:57 AM

Bought the book on Pony express. I've started it. Very interesting. Love this sort of thing.

Of course, This wont help on Trivia, as they will have it all mixed up.