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Jensen

California Rancho Cooking

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The one who you should really try and get is Dan Strehl who edited and translated Encarnacion Pinedo's Encarnacion's Kitchen (Univ Calif Press). I think he'd add a lot from an historical perpective.

I was trying to find other sources and was also led to this book already mentioned by Rancho Gordo...

Here is quote from a review.

The author, Encarnación Pinedo, who lived in Santa Clara, profiled the cuisine of the Californios, Spanish-speaking settlers who lived, and ate, very well until Mexico ceded California to the United States in 1848. After that, the Californios lost status as their property and political influence declined. The recipes, which blend European and Mexican ingredients and techniques, reflect the taste of a well-educated woman of some means. "It was a more elevated and thoroughly thought-out cuisine than people would assume," Strehl says.

"Pinedo's 'Cocinero' documents the start of California's love affair with fruits and vegetables, fresh edible flowers and herbs, aggressive spicing and grilling over native wood fires," writes Valle in his essay.

A little more info on the Amazon link.

If the "panel" idea is persued, Dan Strehl might also have some ideas for other people.

It might be too difficult to balance, but it could be interesting to also have the Villa Creek proprietars or someone similar that is cooking in a more "nuevo" style.


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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As an adjunct to the study, you might want to look into the CD which includes the entire content of Romance of the Ranchos radio program (1941-42) 35 episodes.

Romance of the Ranchos.

It is fun to listen to and is only $2.99. From Chuck's Old Time Radio.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Good news. Our forum host, melkor, is amenable to the idea of a panel discussion and we will be approaching the suggested speakers. At the moment, however, the Calendar & Events Team is refining the materials provided to suggested speakers, so it may be a week or more before they are even contacted. In the meantime, I like Andie's idea that we find out more about rancho life was like . . .


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Mary Baker

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Interesting thread. I'm coming to SF in a couple of weeks. Any recommendations for places I can try to eat this food?


Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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I got Jacqueline Higuera McMahan's "Rancho Cooking" book a few years ago, when it was first published. I have been a fan of hers from her Chronicle column for some time. This thread reminded me of it and I have been re-reading the book. I would defintely recommend it to anyone interested in this topic, or anyone who loves cookbooks that tell a personal story as well as providing recipes. The author begins each chapter with a story from her own family's history (vintage photos as well). Her family goes back eight generations in California and they once owned one of the original Mexican land grant ranchos, located in the modern day San Jose area.

If you are looking for someone for a disucssion panel I am sure you can contact Ms. Higuera McMahan through the SF Chronicle.

Racho cooking seems to be an interesting combination of the tradtional Mediterranean items like olives and olive oil, wine, figs with new world ingredients like beans, chile, cactus, peppers, et al. Most of the rancho settlers were originally from Spain, spent some time in Mexico, and then headed north into the then uncharted land of "Alta California". Meat, beef especially, was important. After all, we are talking about Vaqueros/cowboys. In Rancho Cooking there is a chapter devoted to the elaborate pit barbeques that were prepared for important occasions.

For those in SF or on the Peninsula, there is a county historic site in Pacifica (about 15 miles south of SF on Highway 1), The Sanchez Adobe. This is the restored house that General Sanchez built for his rancho in the 1840's. There are docents that describe what rancho life, including cooking, and the available foodstuffs. Every year in September Pacifica has a "Rancho Days" weekend that includes more elaborate demonstrations, with period costumes, etc.

Sanchez Adobe


Pamela Fanstill aka "PamelaF"

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I got Jacqueline Higuera McMahan's "Rancho Cooking" book a few years ago, when it was first published. I have been a fan of hers from her Chronicle column for some time. If you are looking for someone for a disucssion panel I am sure you can contact Ms. Higuera McMahan through the SF Chronicle.

Racho cooking seems to be an interesting combination of the tradtional Mediterranean items like olives and olive oil, wine, figs with new world ingredients like beans, chile, cactus, peppers, et al. Most of the rancho settlers were originally from Spain, spent some time in Mexico, and then headed north into the then uncharted land of "Alta California".

Based on this recommendation, I ordered McMahan's book, and I agree that she would be an interesting guest for a panel discussion, if anyone is interested.

Also, I found some interesting information on the history of various Mexican-influenced foods at Food Timeline:

In 1921 Louise Lloyd Lowber described the first process for making enchiladas: first a tortilla was placed in the center of a plate, "then a flood of rich, red chilee sauce from a near-by kettle, a layer of grated cheese, another tortilla, more chile and more cheese, sprinkled between in layer-cake fashion, and the whole topped with a high crown of chopped onions in which nestles an egg, which has been broken a minute into the hot lard. An artistic and cooling garnish of lettuce and behold an enchilada.

Along with some enlightening information on the source and true meaning of various Mexican dish names. I always wondered what 'refried' meant! :unsure:


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Mary Baker

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I am bumping up this topic because for Christmas I received a gift of a rare cookbook on this subject.

"Early California Hospitality" by Ana Bégué Packman

"The first and only authentic record of Spanish California cookery, revealing many secret recipes and menus of the period handed down through five generations by the author's illustrious Spanish ancestors who first trod the soil of California with Padre Junipero Serra."

The jacket states the author is the secretary of the Historical Society of Southern California and custodian of Casa Figueroa and a direct descendent of Juan Francisco Reyes, an early alcalde of Los Angeles and Maximo Alaniz, the founder of Rancho San Jose de Buenos Aires, now Westwood Hills. She is also the author of "Leather Dollars."

This book was published by the Arthur H. Clark Company, Glendale, California in 1938.

One thing I find interesting in this book are the number of daily meals:

Desayuno (Breaking the fast)

Almuerzo (Mid-morning meal)

Comida de Medio Dia (Noon dinner)

Merienda (Afternoon collation)

Cena (Supper)

One recipe name that is different from the present-day meaning is "Cajeta" (Glazed Fruit Pulp)

It states that Cajeta is a concentrated fruit jam.

Equal parts of fruit and sugar are cooked until all the water is cooked away with constant stirring with a wooden paddle. This is then spread in a wooden tray 1 1/2 inches thick then put in the sun and air for further drying. The traditional fruits were tunas (prickly pears, mission grapes, figs, and quinces.

Many of the recipes include pumpkin, green pumpkin or summer squash, sweet potatoes, beans, string beans, as well as chiles, tomatoes, onions and olives.

There is a very short chapter on making fresh cheese (using rennet tables) as well as describing saving the stomach of a freshly killed calf for the rennet.

There is also a recipe for preparing ripe black olives that does not require lye, only water and salt. (A strong brine that will float an egg.)

One Lenten dish is Ojos de Buey (Oxeyes - Eggs in chile)

to remind people of the patient oxen

I have yet to prepare any of the recipes, however the book is very interesting to read.

Apparently a reprint was published in 1953 by a Library Guild in Fresno but I have no information about it.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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