OP: Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices
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Outrageous, preposterous, bombastic, chauvinistic, outlandish, and dismissive are all words used to describe George Leonard Herter (1911–1994). The New York Times called him a “surly sage, gun-toting Minnesotan and All-American crank” and an “oddball know-it-all.” We rather like to think of this expert raconteur with the qualified affection one might have for an occasionally racist, frequently misogynist, and most certainly unhinged distant relative.
Herter, an outdoor goods store owner and operator by day, was also a prolific writer. An appreciation for culture and good eating led to his self-published cookbook, Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices (1960). By 1966 Herter claimed that over a million copies had sold, “more than any other cookbook ever published.” Though his calculations are specious, the book was indeed a massive hit and had been reprinted fifteen times by 1970. He followed with two additional volumes. The series is now something of a cult classic.
To call Bull Cook a recipe book, however, would be a disservice. Herter is an opinionated storyteller first and foremost, and nearly every recipe is preceded by a purportedly historical account that may—or may not—have any relationship to the dish that follows. Fact checking at random, we are surprised at how many truths are to be found, though the distance between them might be filled with conjecture and hyperbole.
The recipe for burro sandwiches—filled with refried beans and cheese—for example, begins with the real 16th century historical figure Papantzin, sister to Aztec ruler Montezuma. Herter claims she invented refried beans (questionable). Then, without warning, he puts us in late 19th-century Arizona at Wyatt Earp’s Oriental Saloon (real) where card dealer and gunslinger Luke Short worked (confirmed) and loved refried beans (unsubstantiated).
We are pleased to offer a handful of the first volume, all later printings, in the distinctive gold clothbound case without dust jacket, as issued. All are in Very Good condition, clean and unmarked, save for minor wear. However, some bear signs of previous ownership including names, stamps, or library cards on the endpapers.
Wildly entertaining, at least for the thick of skin. You may pick up a little history, some of it true, while you learn to cook a thing or two. You’ll certainly have a hard time putting it down.