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As it was in the Beginning
To achieve a comprehensive idea of San Francisco's Bohemianism let us divide its history into five eras. First we have the old Spanish days - the days "before the Gringo came." Then reigned conviviality held within most discreet bounds of convention, and it would be a misnomer, indeed, to call the pre-pioneer days of San Francisco "Bohemian" in any sense of the word.
Courtesy unfailing, good-fellowship always in tune, and lavish hospitality, marked the days of the Dons - those wonderfully considerate hosts who always placed a pile of gold and silver coins on the table of the guest chamber, in order that none might go away in need. Their feasts were events of careful consideration and long preparation, and those whose memories carry them back to the early days, recall bounteous loading of tables when festal occasion called for display.
Lips linger lovingly over such names as the Vallejo's, the Picos, and those other Spanish families who spread their hospitality with such wondrous prodigality that their open welcome became a by-word in all parts of the West.
But it was not in the grand fiestas that the finest and most palatable dishes were to be found. In the family of each of these Spanish Grandees were culinary secrets known to none except the "Señora de la Casa," and transmitted by her to her sons and daughters.
We have considered ourselves fortunate in being taken into the confidence of one of the descendants of Señora Benicia Vallejo, and honored with some of her prize recipes, which find place in this book, not as the famous recipe of some Bohemian restaurants but as the tribute to the spirit of the land that made those Bohemian restaurants possible. Of these there is no more tasty and satisfying dish than Spanish Eggs, prepared as follows:
Empty a can of tomatoes in a frying pan; thicken with bread and add two or three small green peppers and an onion sliced fine. Add a little butter and salt to taste. Let this simmer gently and then carefully break on top the number of eggs desired. Dip the simmering tomato mixture over the eggs until they are cooked.
Another favorite recipe of Mrs. Vallejo was Spanish Beefsteak prepared as follows:
Cut the steak into pieces the size desired for serving. Place these pieces on a meat board and sprinkle liberally with flour. With a wooden corrugated mallet beat the flour into the steak. Fry the steak in a pan with olive oil. In another frying pan, at the same time, fry three good-sized onions and three green peppers. When the steak is cooked sufficiently put it to one side of the pan and let the oil run to the other side. On the oil pour sufficient water to cover the meat and add the onions and peppers, letting all simmer for a few minutes. Serve on hot platter.
Spanish mode of cooking rice is savory and most palatable, and Mrs. Vallejo's recipe for this is as follows:
Slice together three good-sized onions and three small green peppers. Fry them in olive oil. Take one-half cup of rice and boil it until nearly done, then drain it well and add it to the frying onions and peppers. Fry all together until thoroughly brown, which will take some time. Season with salt and serve.
These three recipes are given because they are simple and easily prepared. Many complex recipes could be given, and some of these will appear in the part of the book devoted to recipes, but when one considers the simplicity of the recipes mentioned, it can readily be seen that it takes little preparation to get something out of the ordinary.