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Barbecue and Pirates!

In a recent blog article I noted the origin of the word barbecue being from Native Caribbean descent, although I didn't say in the article "Barbecue: The History of an American Institution" the word used by the Taino-Arawak tribes of the Caribbean was 'babracot', which is where the Spanish explorers interpreted and adopted the word 'barbacoa' and where we now have 'barbecue'. The word refers to the wooden rack, made of green not dry wood as to reduce the chance of catching fire, where meat and fish were dried, smoked and cooked over a live fire.

As with every language, over time there is evolution of words and adoption into colloquial language, one such example is the evolution of the word 'babracot' among the privateers of the Caribbean, effectively mercenaries that were paid by nation states to attack and capture enemy ships. I am not an expert on this part of history but there was a very fine line between 'privateer' and 'pirate', indeed in many cases they were one and the same. The privateer word for the rack made of green wood for drying, smoking and cooking meat and fish, often to preserve in the form of a primitive 'jerky', was 'boucan' or 'buccan'. The application of this term to the privateers who used such devices (and the term) by the French led to word 'Boucanier' (those who use boucans) and where we get the word 'buccaneer'!

Image retrieved from here.

Image retrieved from here.

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