How to Eat Like a Pirate on ‘National Talk Like a Pirate Day’


children play pirates

Yes, today really is “National Talk Like a Pirate Day.” If you’re on social media, ye mateys have already been bombarded with bad pirate jokes and sayings. While it might be fun to slap on an eye patch and act like Captain Jack Sparrow today, it’s probably best to stop enacting pirate stuff right there — especially when it comes to your diet. But if you’re so inclined, here’s the pirate diet via


Eat Like a Pirate with The Pirate Diet


The first couple of weeks at sea was full of meat, cheese, fresh veggies, eggs, and you name it. After that the food slowly but surely started to spoil, rot, mold and go rancid. That’s why most of the food in storage was either dry beans, pickled food or salted food like salted meat. The quality and variety of the food was certainly found lacking after a few months at sea. Chickens were kept for the eggs until they were eaten or died. Cows were kept for the milk until the food supply for the cow had depleted.  When the cow no longer had food to live, it was then time to eat the cow.

The meat was frequently rotten and it was very common to see maggots. The bread was full of weevils, even the hardtack sea biscuits which usually lasted for up to 12 months if kept dry. Pirates were known to catch a sea turtle here and there which was a welcomed meal.  Bones from everything was kept to make Pirate Bone Soup for when the going got rough.

Galley cooks were known to use a lot of herbs and spices to cover up the taste of spoiled ingredients. Vegetables and meat were usually pickled or salted to preserve the food.  Ships on long voyages relied on biscuits, dried beans and salted beef to live. Without proper food, many sailors got sick and died of scurvy.

Now, having said all that; it must also be said that in the Mediterranean Sea, ships were never far from a pirate haven, the crew would land as often as possible and could stock up on food – they could also eat and drink as much as they wanted while on land.

Here’s an example of the standard allotment of food for a Pirate for a week at sea:

  • 4 pounds of salt beef
  • 2 pounds of salt pork
  • 2 pints of peas
  • 3 pints of oatmeal
  • 6 ounces of butter
  • 12 ounces of cheese

There was also a daily allotment of a pound of bread and a gallon of beer (or some other type of alcohol depending on the availability). Rum was also a very popular drink item for sea goers.  Other variations included once a week flour, suet (beef fat) and currants or raisins being issued so a “duff” could be made as prevention against scurvy.

Some of the recipes for pirates were also … interesting. Such as Meatpie, which included 5 chickenlivers, pork, cream, porter and irish whiskey and half puff paste (whatever that is); and Salmagundi, a stew with pickled beef or pork, fresh dog, rat, cat or seabird, pickled anchovies and black banana mush. That recipe says to add “tons of garlic, sugar, honey, salt, vinegar, oil and cinnamon.” I haven’t tried it, but I’d suggest that last part is key to being able to swallow a bite of that stew.
Tasty right … ?

Not All Pirate Food Was Bad

With that said, a pirate’s diet was generally considered better than a sailor’s. Pirate crewmembers generally enjoyed the same luxuries and food and drink as their captain. The Navy’s sailors did not. Some pirates actually had a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. As it reads in Suite 101, a West European History:
“Pirates often restocked their ships with the food from merchant ships they sacked. In the Caribbean they also caught turtle to replenish their fouled meat. “Sea turtles were easily snared on land and then kept alive in the ship’s hold until needed,” says author Cindy Vallar. “A pirate’s diet generally was much better than that of a sailor. Pirates ate various types of seafood including dolphins and albacore tuna supplemented with yams, plantains, pineapples, papayas, and other exotic fruits.”
So, would you be happy adopting a pirate’s diet?


And if you want to know how to talk like a pirate, here’s some good advice:

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