Friday, May 3, 2024

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Natalie Bright, Author of End of the Trail Eats

END OF THE TRAIL EATS: Cowboy-Approved Recipes from the Cowtown Café to the Saloon by Natalie Bright

Eating in Cowtown.

It should warm your heart to know that potato salad has been around for over a century, and so has bread pudding, whiskey toddy, and hash. That is one of many surprising discoveries I made when researching the food of the late 1800s Cowtown. A Kansas Cowtown was the place where Texas Longhorns and Texas cowboys collided with railroaders and townspeople. As the saying goes, “No sheriff west of Newton—no God west of Dodge.”

My latest book End of the Trail Eats contains recipes for a varied collection of authentic dishes from stockyard cafes, saloons, hotels and brothels sprinkled with archival photography, Old West lore, first-hand accounts, and profiles of the townspeople. Taste the favorite sandwich of the most beautiful woman in Dodge City, Kansas or cook up a unique hot dog made famous by the notorious gunfighter Bat Masterson. As one reviewer described it, “a historical cookbook, or a cooking history book” with dishes from the real American West.

Rivalry was serious between the Cowtowns in an attempt to entice the drovers and cattle barons to sell herds at their railroad yards for shipment to processing plants back East. Not only did they serve elaborate meals, first class hotel accommodations were advertised as well. Below is a posted menu advertising Sunday Dinner posted in the Abilene Daily Reflector, dated June 1894. Only 25 cents for city residents!

Union Pacific Hotel and Depot, Abilene, Kansas
An Attractive Menu Arranged by the Pacific Hotel.
The menu for the Union Pacific hotel’s Sunday dinner tomorrow is given below.
Only 25 cents to residents of the city.
Clam Chowder
Boil Trout, Natural Sauce
Potatoes au gratin
Lettuce. Olives. Sliced Cucumbers. Sliced Tomatoes.
Boiled Sugar-Cured Ham
Roast Sirloin of Beef
Ribs of Beef, browned potatoes
Roast Turkey, Sage dressing
Smothered Chicken, Southern Style
Mashed Potatoes. Green Peas.
New Boiled Potatoes. Wax Beans.
Pickled Beets. Salmon Salad.
White Cake, lemon sauce
Strawberry Short Cake.
Apple Pie. Lemon Pie.
Vanilla Ice Cream.
Cream Cheese. Assorted Cake.
Assorted Fruit. Raisins. Assorted Nuts.
Coffee. Ice Tea. Sweet Milk.

It was Gustavus Franklin Swift who revolutionized the meat packing process by establishing markets for the byproducts and inventing the refrigerated train car. It was barbed wire and the railroads extended reach that brought an end to the cattle trailing industry and Cowtown.

Happy reading and eating!

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Natalie!

You can find Natalie here:

Facebook Page          Instagram

Pinterest          Goodreads

Books on Amazon