Talk Like A Pirate Day

Avast me hearties! The time is upon us to go on account, carry ye letters of marque and make parley. No Prey, No Pay ye cowardly swabs! Talk Like A Pirate Day is nigh. Bring out yer eye patch, yer peg leg and yer hook hand. Dance a jig, fly your black flag and let your enemies know that they must strike their colors if they expect any quarter to be given.

Despite being violent thieves and murderers, Pirates appeal to our spirit of adventure, freedom and entrepreneurialism. The pirate ship operated as a democracy long before Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence. They were one of the only fairly successful experiments in socialism, where spoils were evenly split among the crew. In the Golden Age of Piracy the social hierarchy in legitimate society was extremely rigid, and the idea of rising above your station was almost impossible. The life of a pirate promised an opportunity to be master of your own destiny, even if that destiny usually led to an early and watery grave. It was a life that even appealed to some women. Which isn’t all that surprising, since the roles available women in those days were even more limiting. If a woman had the skills and knowledge to command a ship bring profit to her crew, there were no social mores to prevent her from doing just that. There was probably a lot more that was unpleasant about the life of a pirate than we like to think about (weevil infested biscuits, scurvy, constant threat of death) but Talk Like a Pirate Day is about celebrating the swashbuckling roguishness as well as the brilliantly colorful vocabulary of these seafaring criminals. Everyone from my two year lad to your 90 year old grandmother knows how satisfying it is to bellow out AAARRGGHHH!

So raise a tankard of Grog with your wenches, open your coffers, pull out a few doubloons and put on a pirate feast. This is not a holiday to worry yourself with the reality of a pirate’s life. This day is about Captain Jack Sparrow, Errol Flynn, Flying from the sails with a sword in hand and getting the girl.

Ahoy Mateys! Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!

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Salamagundi

The Elizabethan era dish, Salmagundi was apparently a very popular pirate ship menu item. One of the reasons must have been it’s infinite versatility. There seem to be as many recipes for it as there were pirate chefs. The name itself evolved from salmigondis which is French for hodgepodge or a whole bunch of different stuff that doesn’t seem to go together. So a ship’s cook could make this out of whatever they had available at the time, which would have varied widely depending on where and how recently they had raided a port. (In fact, according to Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas 1500-1750 by Kris E. Lane, Pirates “raided coastal settlements for fresh victuals at least as often as for booty.”) The recipes are so varied that it’s not even certain what category of dish it is. It can be a stew, a salad and even a paté when known by it’s Jamaican name, Solomon Gundy, which is made from pickled fish and served with crackers. For our purposes it is salad.

In a possibly unrelated coincidence or another strange evolution, Solomon Grundy is also a popular English Nursery Rhyme. It was first published in 1842, which means it was probably widely circulated orally before that, but the salad most likely predated it.

Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
This is the end
Of Solomon Grundy

What, if anything this has to do with a salad of cooked meats, pickled fish, vegetables, fruits and flowers I have no idea. But the Justice League Zombie-Super-Villian Solomon Grundy was based on this nursery rhyme. Naming himself Solomon Grundy because he was “Born on a Monday”, the only thing he remembers about his pre-zombie life. Both of these guys could probably use a good hearty serving of salamagundi.

Anyway, I started with a recipe for Salmagundi from Celtnet.com, that was adapted from the “The Good Huswives Treasure” by Robert May. I further adapted to my tastes and what I had available, and I suggest you do the same. (This recipe measures everything in grams, as is the European way. A kitchen scale is helpful for this, but precision is not important in this instance. I translated the measurements to mean “some of this” “some more of that” “A little of this” and so on…

Ingredients:
1 rotisserie chicken.
4 Tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped
100g French green beans blanched and refreshed in cold water
1 small red onion, finely chopped
8 radishes, sliced
60g plump raisins
1 Tablespoon capers (the recipe calls for finely chopped, I added them whole)
8 new potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced
150g black seedless grapes, halved (or red currants)
6 eggs, soft boiled
Bed of chopped lettuce (or beet leaves)
4 Tablespoons mixed chervil, parsley and chives, finely chopped

Ingredients in the original recipe that I did not use. (because i couldn’t find, don’t like, or forgot to buy)
150g marsh samphire, blanched
60g broom buds
8 figs quartered
6 button mushrooms
60 g flaked almonds, toasted
60g black olives, sliced
1 orange peeled and thinly sliced
Ingredients not in the recipe that I added:
Tin of anchovies
Tin of sardines

Ingredients for the Dressing:
200ml extra virgin olive oil
60ml red wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 orange
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Method:
Boil your eggs for about 6 minutes, or until soft-boiled then drain and
place under cold running water until chilled. Then peel.

Par-boil the samphire and French beans

Remove the flesh from the chicken and cut into strips. Add to a bowl and
toss with the tarragon before seasoning with salt and black pepper.

Toss together the lettuce and broom flowers. Use these to line the base
of a large salad bowl. Arrange the chicken on top then layer the
remaining ingredients. Finish with the orange slices, and whole soft boiled eggs then scatter the
chopped herbs over the top.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the
salad immediately before serving.

O’Hanlon’s Stew

This is a 16th Century Irish style stew recipe. It’s pretty simple, straightforward and cooks extremely quickly for a stew. In addition to being very hearty and tasty! This stew would really stick to your ribs on a stormy night at sea and give you the strength you need to raid a ship.

Ingredients: 4 portions. Use a deep stewpan
300 g of pork stew meat cut into cubes
300 g of beef stew meat cut into cubes
1 bottle of fine porter
2 – 3 slices of dark bread cut into dices
3 – 4 potatoes*
3 dl of cream
50 g of butter

Fry pork, beef and half a glass of porter. After about 5 minutes add the sliced potatoes. When the potatoes starts to turn golden, add cream, the rest of the porter and the dark bread and maybe a little salt and pepper. Let it cook for about 10 – 15 minutes.

*This recipe mentioned that the addition of potatoes is not very historically accurate, but makes the stew taste better. I agree on the taste front, as I am a huge fan of the tuber. In regards to historical accuracy, potatoes are native to South America and were first encountered by Spanish Conquistadors in Peru around 1532 so it is unlikely that a 16th Century stew from Ireland would feature the potato as an ingredient. Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have been the first to bring the potato to Ireland and planted it at his estate near Cork in 1589, an alternate theory is that when the Spanish Armada crashed on the West Coast of Ireland in 1588, some potatoes washed a shore and a national sensation was born. Whichever is correct, it is reasonable to believe it was not until the 17th Century that they would have been regularly utilized in Irish Cuisine. However by the “Golden Age of Piracy” (1650-1730) they would be a standard supply item on sailing ships since they were so perfectly suited to the circumstances of sailors, as those who ate them did not suffer from the dreaded scurvy, they keep very well for long periods and are extremely filling.

Tarte of apples and orange pilles (Elizabethan Orange and Apple Pie)

I’m not sure how much pie baking went on in pirate galleys, but no pirate meal is complete without some citrus to ward off the dreaded scurvy and this tasty dessert is at least something they could have encountered after raiding a port in Spain or Florida where oranges would have been plentiful. This recipe was adapted from The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin, London 1594 by Seat Of Mars, and I have added some of my own notes.

Ingredients:

9 inch unbaked pie pastry shell and lid (always best to make your own pie crust, but of course you can buy this at the grocery store to save time)
5 medium juice oranges
3 cups of water
1 cup of honey
Juice of a small Lemon
4 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced.
Half a cup of brown sugar
Eighth teaspoon of salt
A generous quarter of a teaspoon of Cinnamon
Eighth of a teaspoon of powered Ginger
2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar dissolved in 1 tablespoon of rose water (available at many gourmet food shops or you can make your own.

Bake pie shell at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool

Slice oranges as thinly as possible, discarding seeds.

Combine water, honey, and Lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil.

Add Orange slices. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 2 hours or until peel is limp and easily chewed.

Drain Orange slices and set aside. (you may want to reserve a bit of this liquid to pour over apples and oranges once they are layered to keep the pie gooey.)

In a bowl combine the brown sugar, salt and spices. Add apple slices and toss until evenly coated.

Place a layer of apple slices in a pie shell, then a layer of Orange slices. Repeat with remaining fruit. (I think it is a good idea to also pour the sugary juice that has collected in the bowl of apples over the whole thing to keep the pie from being too dry.)

Place pastry lid over filling. Crimp edges and slash lid in a few places to allow steam to escape.

Paint lid with Rose water icing.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.Apple and Orange Pie

Serve warm with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.