Daily Archives: September 14, 2010

Buccaneer

A pirate. The earliest pirates of the Caribbean were newly-arrived French woodsmen who preserved meat by curing it slowly over a smoky fire so it would last a long time (this was before refrigerators). In the native Carib dialect, boucan was a grill (in Haitian: barbacoa).  The French settlers named the process of smoking and curing meat boucaner and called themselves meat-curers—boucaniers.

When Spain drove out the French settlers in the 1690s they turned to piracy.  They continued to call themselves boucaniers and there may have been a grim joke in the name—the native Caribs were rumored to be cannibals.  Maybe the boucaniers hoped their enemies would associate them with their grisly former neighbors.