The camp cook was often called the “cocinero” (Spanish for “male cook"), or simply “coosie” for short.
Male cook. In early pioneer days, the ‘chuck wagon’ on the trail drives was generally an aging cowboy who was the highest paid worker on the drive. In Tex-Mex history, he was referred to as the “cocinero”, especially when of Spanish descent.
COCINERO: Spanish term for male cook or chuck wagon cook.
CHUCK WAGON COOK: also sometimes called “coosie”, or “cookie.”
by Ramon F. Adams
New York: Houghton Mifflin Books
1936 (original copyright)
The cook also had his slang titles, such as “biscuit-roller,” “biscuit-shooter,” “sour-dough,” “dough-roller,” “dough-wrangler,” “sheffi,” “dinero,” “cookie,” “Sallie,” “old woman,” “belly-cheater,” “coosie”—a corruption of the Spanish word cocinero meaning cook—and many others.
(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
cocinero n. [
1843-45 TJ Green Tex. Exped. 258: Presiding as chief cocinero (cook).
coosie n. [alter. & abbr. of COCINERO] West.
a cook on a ranch or a cattle drive.
1903 A Adams Log of Cowboy 157 [ref to 1882]: How soon will supper be ready, cusi?
1933 American Speech (Feb.) 27: Coosey. Variation of cocinera.
1933 J.V. Allen Cowboy Lore 60: Coosie, Cook—from the Spanish word cocinero.
10 April 1964, Long Beach (CA) Independent, pg. B10, col. 1:
JOHN GAVIN, television’s “Destry,” has compiled a list of names cowboys used to call range cooks. The list follows:
Bean master, belly cheater, biscuit roller, biscuit shooter, cocinero, cookie, cook’s louse, coosie, dinero, dough-belly, dough-boxer, dough-puncher, dough-roller, dough-wrangler, flunky, greasy belly, grub spoiler, grub worm, old woman, potbooks, pot rustler, Sallie, sheffi, sop and ‘taters, sourdough and swamper.
Gavin has another list of names for range cooks, but I couldn’t print it.
10 July 1968, New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM), “Spanish, French, Indian, English—All in Cowboy Lingo,” pg. 4:
Cook. Shortened from cocinero by the cowboy.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Monday, January 08, 2007 • Permalink
I am 75 years old and raised on a ranch in west Texas. We had a chuckwagon that I remember well. Looks just like the one on page 1 of The Texas Cowboy Kitchen cookbook by Grady Spears. Until I read his cookbook, I always thought our ranch chuckwagon cook was named Coosie.....just learned that The Coosie was a universal name for “male cook” from the Spanish cocinero. Just had to check the web to see if that was really the case. Live and learn even at 75!!!