Thursday, March 21, 2013

Barbecued Bulls’ Heads.

I have an interesting menu for you today. I found it in The menu maker; suggestions for selecting and arranging menus for hotels and restaurants, with object of changing from day to day to give continuous variety of foods in season .. , published in Chicago in 1910. The menu is not dated, but all of the other menus in the book appear to be contemporary, so we can reasonably assume it comes from the first decade of the twentieth century.

I give the menu as it appears in the book – luckily an English translation was included, although I am not in a position to judge its accuracy. If you can add or improve the interpretation, please do so. I am particularly entranced by the idea of Mexican Nic Nacs.

The barbecue luncheon at the Vaquero Club, Los Angeles.


Carne tatemada— (barbecue beef)
Borrego rellena— (barbecue lamb. Spanish dressing)
Frijole del pais— (beans Spanish)
Carne con chile— (meat with chile)
Cabesa tademada— (bull heads)
Tamales Calientes— (hot tamales)
Fri pas de leche
Sarza de chile verde— (green chile sauce)
Sarza chile Colorado— (red chile)
Ensaladas de papas a la moda del pais
Tata huila beve leche con pinole— (Pinole and milk)
Puchitas— (Mexican nic nacs)
Agua apollinaris

(From report of this feast in Hotel Monthly.)
Then came the Spanish-Mexican barbecue: the meat cooked in three pits, one for the beef, another for the mutton and a third for the bulls' heads. The cooking of the tamales, chilis, beans, tortilla bread and other components of the menu was done in the open air in full view of the visitors. Chef Joe Romero is an authority on Spanish and Mexican cookery, and has prepared most of the great feasts of this kind in Southern California during the last twenty-five years.
The bulls' head course was served from the last of the barbecue pits to be uncovered. They are a great delicacy. Said Chef Romero: "At the bull fights, when the bull is killed, his head is cooked and eaten, and is the greatest delicacy known to the Spaniard and Mexican.'"
The bulls' heads in Romero's barbecue pit were cooked so tender that the meat just fell from the bones. Six heads were cooked for this particular barbecue.

I give you, for your amusement, an interpretation of the concept of a “Spanish Salad” according to an Englishman of Italian heritage, chef to the very English Queen Victoria - Charles Elme Francatelli. This Spanish Salad  comes complete with Mayonnaise AND French “vinegaret.”  

Spanish Salad.
Cut two or three ripe tomatas in slices, and dish them up in a circular row in a salad-bowl or dish; fill the centre with either small Windsor beans, French beans, garbancas or Spanish peas, pickled button-onions, large green peas, or haricot beans: all, or any of these, to suit convenience and taste, should be gently mixed with some mayonaise sauce: the salad when finished is to be sauced over with vinegaret,—the ordinary seasoning for French salads.
The Cook's Guide (1867)


Anonymous said...

"Borrone relleno" - I'm not sure of borrone, but "relleno" means stuffed.

"frijole del pais" - bean of the country

"fri pas de leche" - could this be "fripas"? I'm not sure what it means, but "milk fripas" sounds like it would be right (whatever they are).

"ensaladas" - salads

"lechugas" - lettuces

"Ensaladas de papas a la moda del pais" - potato salad country style?


Piet B said...

Judging from the spelling of some of the terms, and some of the words themselves, this seems to be a menu filled with local jargon. "Borrego" generally refers to milkfed lamb, but I've never heard of it being stuffed the way a chile is -- it's usually pit roasted with just herbs. "Puchitas" could be a form of doughnut, but in modern California Spanish, it's right on the edge of a socially unacceptable word. "Fripas" is, I think, "bits and pieces", so it's perhaps an awkward attempt to Mexify "friandises", or miscellaneous deep-fried dessert pastries. "Sarza" or "sarsa" of course is "salsa" in correct Spanish, but the substitution of the R for the L in the spelling and pronunciation is definitely Californian and an old-fashioned carryover from the late eighteenth century.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks Sandra! between us all we will work it out!

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks Piet B for that very interesting commentary. You are saying that it is Californian-Mexican, not 'authentic" Mexican, I think, which would make sense, given the location of the hotel?

Piet B said...

Well, "Mexican" is sort of like "French" -- every area has its own style, some of the terms and many of the dishes are known in only really small territories. A mole' sauce in Oaxaca State is completely different from what you would eat in Coahuila State and both are different from what you'd get in Sonora State, for example. California Mexican, at least at the period when that menu was published, still had quite a heavy influence from the earliest Spanish settlers, so it is not incorrect to say it's authentic but very local, like authentic Loire Valley cuisine would be different from the cuisine of Normandy.

Elise Fleming/Alys K. said...

Other "misspellings" include "beve" (probably a verb form of "beber" - to drink. And, there's "cabesa" which more accurately is "cabeza". Both fit with the sound of Spanish although not with the orthography.

Elise Fleming/Alys K. said...

Other "misspellings" include "beve" (probably a verb form of "beber" - to drink. And, there's "cabesa" which more accurately is "cabeza". Both fit with the sound of Spanish although not with the orthography.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks all for your insightful comments: I love/hate arguments about "authenticity" - and this story and debate are why I love/hate them!