Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Cooking & Eating Buffalo:

"Meanwhile, divers of the company had joined the butcher, and, while some were greedily feeding upon liver and gall, others helped themselves to marrow-bones, "boudins," and intestinum medulae, (all being choice selections with mountaineers) and others, laden with rich spoils, hastened their return to commence the more agreeable task of cooking and eating.

The remaining animal was butchered in a trice, and select portions of each were then placed upon a pack-horse and conveyed to the waggons.

The assortment was, indeed, a splendid one.  The "depouille" (fleece fat) was full two inches thick upon the animal's back, and the other dainties were enough to charm the eyes and excite the voracity of an epicure.  

The camp-fires soon presented a busy and amusing spectacle.  Each one was ornamented with delicious roasts, en appolas, on sticks planted aslope around it, attentively watched by the longing voyageurs, who awaited the slow process of cooking.  Some were seen with thin slices from the larder, barely heated through by the agency of a few coals, retreating from the admiring throng to enjoy solo their half-cooked morsels, -others, paring off bit by bit from the fresh-turned hissing roasts, while their opposite received the finishing operation of the fire, -and others, tossing their everted boudins into the flames, and in a few seconds withdrawing for the repast, each seizing his ample share, bemouthed the end in quick succession to sever the chosen escuent, which, while yielding to the eager teeth, coursed miniature rivulets of oily exuberance from the extremities of the active orifice, bedaubing both face and chin, and leaving its delighted eater in all the glories of grease.

Every man had now become his own cook, and not to be backward, I closed in with the overture.  Seizing a frying-pan replete with tempting levies from the "fleece," I twice subjected it to its duty, and as often its delicious contents found ample store-house; and even yet my longing appetite seemed loath to cry "hold, enough."

The agreeable odor exhaled from the drippings of the frying flesh, contained in the pan, invited the taste, -a temptation claiming me for its subject. Catching up the vessel, a testing sip made way for the whole of its contents, at a single draught, -full six gills!  Strange as it may seem, I did not experience the  least unpleasant feeling as the result of my extraordinary potation."   

The above passage is from Rocky Mountain Life by Rufus Sage.  


Lewis Garrard, in 1846, describes the campfire scene after the wagon train had gotten into buffalo country and fresh meat was once again available (Reference)  

"Good humor reigned triumphant throughout camp.  Canadian songs of mirth filled the air; and at every mess-fire pieces of meat were cooking en appolas; that is, on a stick sharpened, with alternate fat and lean meat, making a delicious roast.  Among others, boudins were roasting without any previous culinary operation, but the tying of both ends, to prevent the fat, as it was liquefied, from wasting; and when pronounced “good,” by the hungry, impatient judges, it was taken off the hot coals, puffed up with heat and fat, the steam escaping from little punctures, and coiled on the ground or a not particularly clean saddle blanket, looking for all the world like a dead snake." 


"At our mess-fire there was a whole side of ribs roasted.  When browned thoroughly we handled the long bones, and as the generous fat dripped on our clothes, we heeded it not, our minds wrapped up with the one absorbing thought of satisfying our relentless appetites; progressing the work of demolition, our eyes closed with ineffable bliss.  Talk of an emperor’s table-why, he could imagine nothing half so good.  The meal ended, the pipe lent its aid to complete our happiness; and at night we retired to the comfortable blankets, wanting nothing, caring for nothing.  One remarkable peculiarity there is about buffalo meat-one can eat even beyond plentitude, without experiencing any ill effects." 

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