What Foods Did Pirates Eat?

Pirates ate any foods that stayed good for long periods, such as hard tack, which was a square biscuit. During the start of a voyage, pirates had pineapples, yams, plantains and other fruits. However, they only had these types of foods until they became infested with insects or spoiled.

Some pirates caught their own foods while at sea, including fish, turtles and dolphins. Oftentimes, pirates turned their catches into a dish called salmagundi, or Solomon Grundy. This was a dish that is similar to a chef salad. It contained cut-up fish or any other meat they had on board, such as palm hearts, oil and spiced wine. If the pirates were lucky, this meal was served with pickled onions, hard-boiled eggs, grapes or olives. Unfortunately, this was another dish that was only available during the start of a voyage, when supplies were still plentiful.

The hard tack that pirates kept on their ships did not spoil for long periods of time. However, it often became infested with weevils, which are small beetles. Old pirate journals state that men often ate their hard tack in the dark, so they could not see the weevils that infested their food. Sometimes, the chef on board could make the hard tack soft by cooking it in rum or brown sugar, giving the food a texture similar to porridge.