# 167, Buy 10 cookbooks, 4/10
There’s something about a Stetson, a rope, and a tooled leather belt that just makes my belly quiver like a mud puddle in a stampede of steers.
I’m not sure if it’s because of the late night viewings of films like The Cowboys and Rooster Cogburn, which my dad and I watched in the dark living room late at night while Kathy and the baby were sleeping. Or, maybe it was spending part of my youth in the southwest, tramping through dairy ranches and eating hotdogs in the bleachers of local rodeos, but I just love the swagger and spit of cowboys.
In the years I lived in New Mexico, where my family has roots that stretch across four centuries, I learned to love the smell of roasting green chilies and burning leaves and I will always hold dear my dunkings in weedy irrigation ditches where I swam in my underpants on hot, dusty days.
I remember riding on the worn front seat of an old truck which smelled of gasoline, tobacco and dogs. I’d see men on horseback in the fields and my Grandpa Teles would tell me, “I’m the black horse and you are the white horse and we will run through the fields together.”
I would look across the fields of alfalfa and imagine being, first the horse, and then the cowboy, riding with purpose under the big open sky. This romantic image of the cowboy, which has made whole nations swoon, even took hold in my eight-year-old heart and has held its place there in the all the decades that have followed.
Not surprisingly, cowboy food is the diet I tend to think about during imagined “stranded on desert island scenarios”. My love for beans, biscuits or tortillas, chilies, fatback (bacon), steaks, eggs, and all the other chuckwagon items easily explains why I’ve never been a size 2 girl who lives on sushi and salad. Instead I dream of hunks of cornbread dunked into bowls of fresh beans, juicy ribeyes cooked over an open fire, and fruit cobblers made in cast iron dutch ovens.
So when I saw Robb Walsh’s book, The Texas Cowboy Cookbook on a bookstore shelf, I had to get my hands on it. I already have titles (from other authors) such as The Chuckwagon Cookbook, Dishes from the Wild Horse Desert, Big Sky Cooking, etc., so it seemed like it would be a good addition to the Southwest category of my cookbook collection.
Opening the first chapter, I found that the book is more than a mere recipe booklet. It is full of history and photographs and stories. Black cowboys, Vaqueros, and Cowgirls all have chapters dedicated to them and Walsh shows how Southern cooking and cowboy cooking blend together seamlessly in the fried chicken part of west Texas.
Other recipes range from fried catfish to venison tamales to pickled watermelon. He has me at howdy with dishes like Fideo con Carne and Frying Pan Ranch Old-Fashioned Peach Cobbler.
Texas Cowboy Cooking was published in 2007, and you can find a few of Robb Walsh’s recipes on his website. He is a three-time James Beard Journalism Award winner, and the author of a dozen books about food and a partner in El Real Tex-Mex Café in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood. He is also a co-founder of Foodways Texas, a non-profit dedicated to preserving Texas food history headquartered at UT Austin.
I’m looking forward to working my way through Texas Cowboy Cooking.
229 days to go!