Jamie Oliver gives us an insight into his experience in Wyoming while shooting his show, Jamie's American Road Trip.
Was the countryside as spectacular as it looked?
Yes. Wyoming was stunning. It is only one of America’s 50 states but it’s bigger than Britain with only a fraction of the people and a massive amount of animals. This part of the U.S. used to be called the ‘Wild West’ and it really is cowboy country. I guess it was probably a bit like East LA back in the day – a lot of vigilantes and gunslingers staking claims of land and stuff like that.
Were you surprised that the cowboys were just like you imagined they would be on the TV?
The cowboys I met really were like the cowboys that I had seen on the telly. They were tough and hardworking but also lovely, genuine people. I had a lot of fun with them and learning about the lifestyles of the rodeo cowboys and also the working cowboys on the ranch was amazing.
Were you surprised at how good the food cooked by the camp jacks was?
The food I tried was delicious but historically, cowboy food out on the trail would have been fairly bad. Not because the people cooking it were rubbish cooks, but because the reality of running a chuck wagon kitchen and cooking for 12 cowboys every day for a month or two at a time would have been really difficult. It would have been all about dried beans and other food they could take with them. The camp jacks would have added to that by picking berries or shooting wild game when they came across it but if they ran out of food they’d have to wait until the next town to stock up. But, when they had good ingredients the actual styles of cooking they used – like slow cooking in Dutch ovens over open fire or spit roasting – would have given the food they did cook amazing flavours and textures.
The recipes in my cookbook and the things I made while I was out there were definitely inspired by all those brilliant cooking styles. But back in the day I reckon cowboy food would have been all about beans, water, stale bread and basic survival food. Pretty lean.
Did many of the people you met know who you were?
No one really knew who I was. Some of them got onto the internet and had a little poke about, which is always a bit of a worry because you never know what they’ll find!
What was the best thing about the trip?
The best thing about this trip was definitely riding horses, especially next to proper cowboys.