Pirate Potluck

Geek Culture

Friday we’re hosting our Kids Classic Bookclub meeting, and we’ll be discussing Richard Hughes’ A High Wind in Jamaica , a wry tale of a group of children kidnapped by pirates in the early 1800s. Before you rush out to get a copy for your child, however, I should disclose that although I remember loving it as a teen, early reports indicate that it is not going to be a bookclub favorite.

Oh well. I’ll try to make up for it by letting the kids watch the movie (which stars James Coburn and Anthony Quinn as the pirates) and, of course, our pirate potluck. Whether my Salmagundi will get a better reception than my book choice remains to be seen, but in past years I’ve enjoyed it enough to share with you here.

Salmagundi, or pirate stew, comes from the French word for seasalt. (And yes, the name is related to Solomon Grundy of nursery rhyme and Batman fame.) The English use the word to mean “a mishmash,” which is fitting because Salmagundi traditionally is a little bit of anything the pirate chef has aboard: chopped meat, pickled fish, dried fruits. My favorite version calls for a pound each of corned beef and goat and starts out, “Hack meat into gobbets.” But this is the recipe I’ve actually cooked:

Kathy’s Salmagundi

1 1/2 lb chopped beef
1 tin anchovies
1/2 onion, chopped
chopped cabbage or lettuce
sliced celery
sliced green banana
2 apples
raisins, chopped
dried mango, chopped
fresh sage, oregano, parsley
powdered ginger
garlic salt
freshly ground black pepper

Brown meat in butter in cast iron pan. Add remaining ingredients and braise, seasoning to taste. Cover for 5-10 minutes.

We’ll be serving that with some pomegranate punch, hard tack, and maybe some rum cake (not for the kids, of course: it’s dangerous to eat so damp and rich a cake.) We’re looking forward to the other families’ Caribbean concoctions as well.

Oh, and if you’re looking for some pirate bookclub material, try Treasure Island  or Peter Pan  – both books worked for us!

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