Synopses & Reviews
Pioneer temperaments, Jacqueline Williams shows, were greatly influenced by that which was stewable, bakable, broilable, and boilable. Using travelers' diaries, letters, newspaper advertisements, and nineteenth-century cookbooks, Williams re-creates the highs and lows of cooking and eating on the Oregon Trail. She investigates the mundane—biscuits and bacon, mush and coffee—as well as the unexpected—carbonated soda made from bubbling spring water; ice cream created from milk, snow, and peppermint; fresh fruits and vegetables.
Understanding what and how the pioneers ate, Williams demonstrates, is essential to understanding how they lived and survived—and sometimes died—on the trail.
"This book holds an encyclopedia of information culled from diaries and contemporary newspapers. I can't think of a more intimate account of the lives of the overlanders, how they turned their rude wagons into homes, how they made meals both a comfort and a celebration. Some readers will want to try out recipes; others will read in awe as in the midst of difficult travel, women made certain their families marked the Fourth of July with cakes—fruit jelly and sponge-puddings, and ice cream—and clean underwear!"—Lillian Schlissel, author of Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey and Western Women: Their Lands, Their Lives
"For history buffs and armchair cooks, this book about eating in the Wild West makes absorbing reading. For everybody else, it is another face of the old cowboy, more personal, more vulnerable, less heroic, and excruciatingly human". -- New York Times Book Review. "This is that rare western history work that is as entertaining as it is informative". -- Denver Post.
In this book, I gather the information and the data pertaining to mid-nineteenth-centruy culinary habits and examine it from the perspective of the people who lived in the prairie schooners. The focus is on the early months of travel, when supplies were adequate and cooks still had the energy to add a dash of creativity to the cookery pot.
An entertaining look at how pioneer women cooked and ate on the trail. Williams describes what they took, how they stored things, and what recipes and creative cooking techniques they used to sustain themselves on the arduous journey west.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 211-214) and index.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Stocking Up
2. The Mobile Pantry
3. Essential Equipment
4. The Way They Cooked
5. The Glorious Fourth
Suggestions for Further Reading