Monday, January 14, 2013


Pemmican, Jerky or Dried Beef

What did cowboys call it? Most modern western tails have a cowboy, the army or an Indian chewing on jerky somewhere in the story. But did they really call it jerky?

I have only been looking for a few days but can’t find a western tail written before the 1950s or maybe the 60s that mentioned jerky. If you look at supply lists for the Oregon Trail or cattle drives they list many foods, but no jerky. (Lots of salt pork, bacon, beans and even canned tomatoes and peaches)
 
 I found many references to the word jerky coming from the Spanish word, Charqui, which was corrupted to jerky, sounds plausible, but I have also found mountain man tails where they referred to all dried meat as pemmican, even though it did not fit the American Indian idea or recipe of pemmican.

I have published several short stories/historical pieces over the years and have a just completed (unpublished) novel. Now believe I may have made an historical error by calling dried meat, jerky.  Just wondering—any thoughts?
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