Straddle Your Saddle and Head for the Chuck Wagon

THE URBAN CHUCK WAGON (Part of the Series FLAVORS) Andrea Rademan Mount one of your trusty steeds — whether Mustang, Colt, Pony or the no-horseback riding-skills-needed Uber or Lyft — and gallop over to the Autry Museum of the American West in Griffith Park on Friday, February 23, from 7p.m. to 10p.m. That’s when Culinary Historians of Los Angeles’ Richard Foss has organized “The Urban Chuck Wagon: 100 Years of Food Truck Fare,” the conveyances that inspired the first Los Angeles food trucks back in the 1880s. Foss says, “Operated mostly by immigrants, these multicultural dining experiences introduced the city to many of our beloved dishes. Before this, the first chuck wagon was created in 1866 when a Texas cattleman bolted a cupboard onto the back of an army wagon. On the trail, these rolling kitchens fed the cowboys at the cattle company’s expense, about four cents per head. A good cook could transform cheap ingredients into something worth eating, and cowboy cooks gained their reputations based on their level of culinary skill.” The last time I ate at a chuckwagon it was part of a Montana cattle drive. The cook prepared huge trays of eggs and sausages and potatoes and Texas toast (grilled triple thick white bread). He served pancakes slathered with butter applied with a house painter’s brush and drowned them in at least a quart of syrup. The was breakfast and it ended with mugs of cowboy coffee — made from coffee grounds and water boiled in tin pots. It is a bracing brew. For our dinner at the Autry Greg Hozinsky, who is Executive Chef at The Strand House, a chic hotel in Manhattan Beach, has planned a modern Urban Chuck Wagon Menu. We’ll start off with oyster cocktails and honey roasted peanuts with togarashi (a peppery Japanese condiment blend). Next up will be lamb’s tongue pastrami on rye with sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese — a cowboy Reuben — followed by XLNT tamales; hot smoked salmon (or trout) with mustard seed vinaigrette, potato, curly endive, and pickled red onion; and BBQ Korean short rib tostada with kimchi, herbs, and avocado salsa. We’ll finish with banana and chocolate cream pie, and crispy waffles with ice cream. Tickets: ($55 Autry Members /$65 Nonmembers) include plates from multiple food stations, access to the galleries and garden, and presentations by chefs and food history experts. Reservations: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-urban-chuck-wagon-100-years-of-food-truck-fare-tickets-41440787511 Don't miss the April installment, From Trail to Table in the 21st Century, on Friday, April 6!

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