_Don't Critize The Cook...

Serves: 5



It's not written in the scriptures nor is it part of the Ten Commandments, but criticizing the cook or the food borders on the unpardonable. Again I haven't read it in the good book, but sometime, somewhere, a pretty good cook figured out that "Revenge do belongeth to the cook"!

In l974 after graduating from college, I worked part of a season on a dude ranch north of Challis, Idaho. The first part of the season, we didn't have many guests. The high mountain lakes and trail were still locked in snow so we spent our time shoeing horses, building fence, etc. A fair part of the time it was just the cook and me at the place. She was going to college and this was her first job away from home.

Karen was a right fine cook and knew what she was doing. During the times it was just the two of us at the ranch was about the only time in my life when one person devoted all their energy to cooking for me.

Things went fine for about three weeks. I'd been building fence all day and came back to the cook shack to find a meal fit for a king. Turkey and all the trimmings, right out there in the back woods. After dinner we had pumpkin pie for dessert. My mother was no slouch when it came to pies, and pumpkin was one of her specialties!

After cleaning my plate of the second piece of pie, I shoved my chair away from the table and made what I thought was a very innocent comment. The best I recall now, it went something like this, "that's not the way my mom makes pumpkin pie." I didn't say either recipe was better, nor did I express a preference for one or the other. Just that my mom made her's a different way. Not being overly savvy in the ways of women, I must've missed the dirty looks the cook shot in my direction.

At dawn the next day though, I did notice the quality and quantity of the food had declined. At first I thought it was just the cooks equivalent of a "bad hair day". After the third or fourth day of trying to discern which plate of food was mine and which was intended for the dog, I decided to ask what the hell was going on. The cook had her apron bunched up in her hands and was popping it at flies. After several scowls, which I now saw were directed at me, and after all the flies were killed, she finally spilled it. She thought I didn't like her pumpkin pie!

I finally convinced her of the innocence of my comment. I've since learned that lady cooks magnify any ill feeling towards the complainant when someone else's mother is mentioned. In my case the food improved and I learned not to talk to the cook about my mom.

Years ago I heard a story which went something like this. On a 1880's trail drive out of Texas about half way to Dodge, the cookie quit. The trail boss assigned the cook's duties to be rotated and the first guy to complain about someone else's cooking would finish the trip driving the team hitched to the chuck wagon. Needless to say the cowboys were pretty unhappy.

No matter how bad the food turned out to be, these old cow pokes would bite their tongues and not complain. About the second time through the rotation, one old feller decided he would do something so bad to the food someone would complain and he wouldn't have to cook again. So as the beans were simmering along, he dumped in about five pounds of salt.

That evening as the cowboys rode to camp to eat in shifts, this reluctant cook figured surely someone would belly ache about how salty the beans were. About two bites were about the limit of what a cowboy would eat before throwing the rest away and going back to the herd to eat dust instead. The old boy riding drag came in after being relieved, hungry enough to eat the skillet. The aroma of the beans started his mouth watering. One bite of beans and he exclaimed, "Damn, these beans are salty", remembering in time to add, "but that's just the way I LIKE'M!!! " I never did hear who ended up cooking all the way into Dodge.

A Back Country Guide to Outdoor Cooking Spiced with Tall Tales

This _Don't Critize The Cook... recipe is from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

More Recipes from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook:
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_About the Author
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_Bread And Horse Wrecks
_Brother-In-Law Duck
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_Chili, The Controversy And The Recipes
_Common Sense And Cards
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_Cooking From Cans - Menu For Day 16
_Culinary Bombs
_Don't Critize The Cook...
_Dry Camps
_Fanny Pack Snacks
_Game Meat
_Game Warden Dog
_Game Warden Scramble
_Garlic & Her Poor Cousin "Onion"
_Getting Bread In Camp
_Good Cooks / Bad Cooks!
_Good Humored Cook
_Hank's Spaghetti Sauce
_Hank, Jack And Me
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