Shouldn't The Discerning Drovers of "Rawhide" Enjoyed Delicious Cuisine?
"Rawhide": The glitch.
If you love food, and to watch the western icon, "Rawhide" starring Eric Fleming as "Gil Favor," trailboss and a young Clint Eastwood as "Rowdy Yates," ram-rod, you probably noticed one obvious glitch that either fell on the producer or screenplay writer.
That glitch, although not a show-stopping problem, could have turned into a major problem if you were a cattle drover always staring realism straight in the eyes while working 18-hour days in all kinds of weather.
The glitch as I seen it on almost every "Rawhide" episode: "Wishbone," Paul Brinegar, always cooking and serving the same thing morning, noon, and night. No change in the food that drovers need to work those ungodly hours and as a footnote, none of these drovers were young men, so they needed that extra boost from the food served by "Wishbone," and his sidekick, "Mushy." So why didn't someone with influence say something?
Work, yes? Eat, you bet!
I redact the phrase, 'same thing morning, noon, and night,' because on one "Rawhide," episode, "Gil Favor," was in one of his rather "salty" moods and had the drovers working 'round the clock, never stopping except for a short meal break, because someone in the town they started out from had said a very disparaging remark about "Favor's" abilities to push his herds to get to the market in record time.
In a meal scene, actor Steve Raines, who played "Quince," stood up, raked-out the remnants on his plate and growled to "Wishbone," "Can't you just one time, serve something besides this tripe? And by the way, just what is this you call food?" "Wishbone," snarled back, "Frankly, I don't know. But you will eat what I serve or leave!"
Something mysterious was afoot.
You see? Not even the actors knew what to call the food that was served to the hard-working drovers. Would any other dramatic western, say, "Gunsmoke," or "Bonanza," go each week with an obvious-oversight right under their mouths? The simple answer is "no."
Maybe, and do not read into this statement, there was a "food supply controversy," involving Warner Bros. and CBS, the network that produced and broadcast "Rawhide." Now many years later, such thinking is impossible to prove.
Maybe the actors "did" protest mildly or try to tell "Rawhide" producers and directors of this denial of healthy foods, but with the scare of the "Black List" of the 1950's brought-on by Sen. Joe McCarthy, their objections fell on deaf ears and it was suggested by those "in the shadows," that if such talk continued, the "Rawhide" actors and their contracts would be terminated along with any chance they would have in working for any other studio. That would keep me in line for sure.
Just what did the men eat?
I did research the question of "why actors on "Rawhide," didn't have decent food during their meal scenes and hit a dead-end. All I can tell you is what you have probably seen in that of "Wishbone" and "Mushy" preparing things for breakfast or supper. "Mushy" with water in buckets he had retrieved from a nearby stream and "Wishbone" taking a long-handled spoon from a huge steel pot hanging over an open-fire and tasting it to see if it needed more ingredients. That was all you seen. But on some "Rawhide," after a meal, some of the better-known actors would get to "complain" to "Wishbone" about the food he served tasting bland.
My query of why good, wholesome foods were not wrote into the meal scenes of "Rawhide," has a lot of obvious answers. And reasons to bolster the actors who made the "Rawhide" series such a hit for CBS and Warner Bros. "could" have easily secured the foods for mealtime and made the meal scenes even more interesting.
Other obtainable foods the drovers could have eaten and enjoyed.
Even in the show, there was a monetary-allotment for food and supplies. "Wishbone" could have just bought the good food at the many towns they had to visit to replenish their drover corps and pick-up needed medicines and it was mentioned "Mushy, you and Wishbone be sure to get some good meat for the stew." You see? I wouldn't be writing this if the food that drovers like would have been put into the scripts. Was that too hard for the screenwriters in "Rawhide" days? I think not.
Along with the photos of tasty, healthy foods in photos to the right, I want to add a few more to this list of cuisine that the "Rawhide" actors and those of other western series could have eaten and enjoyed.
Cornbread -- "Wishbone" had flour for biscuits, so it stands to reason they would have cornmeal in the chuck wagon, so why not cook-up a couple of pones (cakes) of tasty cornbread for the men?
Apple pies -- do not tell me that apples could not have been bought by "Wishbone" from a supply store in one of the towns the cattle drive had to pass on their way to some cattle market somewhere? Apples could be eaten by themselves as snacks by the drovers on duty or made into tasty pies for a suppertime treat.
Pork Sausage -- and hot biscuits are breakfast-enough with a hot cup of coffee to make any drover happy to work for "Gil Favor" driving cattle to Missouri. As for the sausage, they had pigs in those days and the more-high-end restaurants I am sure offered sausage with eggs and hot biscuits, so here is one food the drovers "could" have had.
Vegetable Soup -- would work anytime on a cattle drive. And again, couldn't "Wishbone" have bought some tasty carrots, cabbage, onions, and other veggies that would have made a great soup. Now if he wanted to make a great beef and vegetable soup, the men could have butchered a steer that had fell in a gopher hole and had to be put out of its misery.
Delicious Cakes -- could have been made by "Wishbone" because he had the flour, lard, and he could have used some vanilla flavoring for the savoring taste. If only the screenwriters had used some common sense.
Tasty Chili -- do not tell me that there were not the fixings to make that lip-smacking hot as brimstone chili that made men out of boys. So tell me why didn't the writers at least give these hard-working drovers at least one pot of chili?
To offer my closing point. Watch any episode of "Bonanza," and you will see the "Cartwrights," sitting down to a hefty breakfast of eggs, ham or bacon, biscuits, or pancakes with syrup, so if Lorne "Ben Cartwright" Greene; Pernell "Adam Cartwright" Roberts; Dan "Hoss Cartwright" Blocker and Michael "Little Joe" Cartwright of the NBC super-successful "Bonanza," had great food written into their scripts, then why in creation didn't "Rawhide" enjoy the same pleasure?
Was it coincidence that M*A*S*H, that was produced and broadcast over CBS, had the same problem of not having good food at mess time?
And do not try to sell me on that old thinking that in M*A*S*H's days, the United States Army could not afford great food.
I think now that I have accidentally uncovered something big. Too big to talk more about here.