Lee Pitts is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email them at leepitts@leepittsbooks.com.

Cowboys have always had their own vocabulary. It’s almost as if they are talking in code so that only another cowboy can understand what they’re saying. For example, the cook on a cowboy crew is a pot rustler, coosie, or cookie, the chuckwagon where he prepares the grub is his crumb castle, and when he rings his dinner bell, cowboys put on the nosebag. To determine just how well you speak cowboy, here is a little multiple-choice test to find out if you’re a real cowboy or one of the drugstore persuasion. (Answers are at the end.)

  1. “Boggy top” is a) pine nuts with goat cheese, b) portobello mushrooms on a buckwheat roll with balsamic vinegar dressing, c) cod tacos with mutton enchiladas, d) pie with no crust.
  2. “Bear sign” is a) fried coleslaw, b) donuts, c) a white bread bologna sandwich, d) pepperoni pizza without anchovies.
  3. “Spotted dog” is a) Dalmatian on fry bread, b) dirty sock soup, c) garlic rattlesnake hash, d) suet pudding.
  4. “Cackleberries” are a) eggs, b) cowcumbers (pickles), c) peanut M & M’s, d) raisins.
  5. “Cow salve” is a) double espresso, half-decaf with mocha, b) guacamole c) butter, d) vente almond frappuccino with a hint of cinnamon.
  6. “Saddle horn” is a) biscuits hard enough to break the teeth on a rat, b) Fig Newtons®, c) arugula salad with saddle soap dressing, d) cooked carrots in beet sauce.
  7. “Chuckwagon chicken” is a) haggis b) pheasant under glass, c) salt pork dipped in flour and fried, d) barbecued prairie chicken.
  8. “County attorney” is a) beans that talk behind your back, b) rutabaga nestled in a bed of mixed greens, c) son of a gun stew, d) oatmeal with raisins.
  9. “Splatterdabs” are a) fish sticks with chutney, b) pork and beans, c) fried mozzarella cheese balls, d) pancakes.
  10. “Lick” is a) molasses, b) an ice cream cone, c) peppermint candy, d) watermelon infused with vodka.
  11. “Desperation cake” is a) fried Hostess Twinkies®, b) cake made without eggs or milk, c) regifted Christmas fruitcake, d) wedding cake.
  12. “Neck oil” or “bug juice” is a) castor oil, b) coffee so weak it tastes like scalded water, c) lemon and honey, d) whiskey.
  13. “Rocky Mountain oysters” are a) moose balls, b) sheep eyeballs, c) bovine testicles, d) oysters from Colorado.
  14. “Kansas City fish” is a) chipped tuna on toast, b) fried pork, c) chicken gizzards, d) rack of woodchuck.
  15. “Whistleberries” or “Mexican strawberries” are a) onions, b) beans usually cooked in dishwater, c) cabbage, d) prunes.
  16. “Calf slobber” is a) Cool Whip®, b) butter (also known as axle grease), c) leftovers, d) merengue.

Answers: (1) d, (2) b, (3) d, (4) a, (5) c, (6) a, (7) c, (8) c, (9) d, (10) a, (11) b, (12) d, (13) c, (14) b, (15) b, (16) d.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles