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If you look at the typical Italo Western there is a common theme of eating. Both heroes and villains are eating a typical bean sludge dish in a frying pan by hand....dirty hands, to be precise.

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While the first one is red in the picture, it normally looks more brown, with beans and unidentified...ingredients.

Do anyone know what exactly is used in those Westerns? Is it a common dish? It is simply putting some beans into the pan or do they really cook it and the actors eat it?

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    Insert Blazing Saddles reference. – Paulie_D Sep 28 '16 at 22:04
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Looks like baked beans. A common staple in American's diets (or at least was a common staple...)

  • Yeah, it really looks like that. It makes also sense because it was one of the first canned recipes, baked beans are available since 1870. – Thorsten S. Oct 3 '16 at 6:09
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I agree with the first answer above. And maybe it is as simple as that in terms of how the question was worded. But I would like to bring a little reality here, since this is what those artistic images actually represent. So... Is this just an edible prop to show austere, unsanitary conditions, or was it really the way it was?

In one case, you have the cowboy on the range and he eats what he is carrying with him, and what he can hunt locally. That probably means a lot of beans. But it also means everything else that his rifle shot recently.

The a broader case, we are closer to people who can cook on a stove and have access to the local economy (like in the picture above). Now human creativity takes over and you have all sorts of foods, much of which was probably quite good. But still, beans were undoubtedly a common ingredient. I have read stories of people riding miles and miles because they heard of a good cook who baked doughnuts (or bearclaw as they called it then).

The cuisine was distinct, but it was not mostly beans.

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