The pirates were known to be alcoholics who drank any kind of alcohol they got, no matter the wine, brandy, fruit wine or beer.
Lumberjacks in Campeche (on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico) were also well-known drinkers, they fired shots when they made toasts. As for pirates, when they took a vote, a bowl of sweet wine would be the appetizer.
Captain Jack and rum
In fact, alcohol was almost involved in everything that happened on a pirate ship. At that time , boozing was not uncommon. There were some pirates such as Bartholomew Roberts tried to restrict his men from drinking liquor, while some others like the Blackbeard found the rum could not only cheer his men up but also preserve his leadship. In the 17th and 18th centuries, navigation meant a series of manipulations. It was very difficult for a drunk man to do that, so pirates would not be always drunk. Usually they would have a binge drink only when the ship was at the port or under maintainance at the shelter.
Pirates were used to drink when thirsty. Since fresh water was easily spoilable, beer and other alcohol beverages became the alternatives to fresh water. Drinking was also a social behavior which enhanced unity among pirates. Furthermore, alcohol was used to keep warm, treat the wounded and the sick, and was also involved in some rituals. Pirates in the west used to drink Bumboo, which was made with rum, water, sugar and nutmegs. Its key ingredient, rum, was indispensable for the most Caribbean people in the 17th and 18th centuries.
As for the food, the pirates ate whatever was available.
Back to the story of Captain Snelgrave who was held captive by pirates. He noticed that his hijackers quickly ran up cheese, butter, sugar and anything else eatable on board, but Snelgrave himself was given biscuits and hams. Also, he saw the pirates butchered livestocks like gooses, turkeys and ducks, put them all in a cauldron together with Bavarian ham and even a pregnant pig. With relish, these pirates enjoyed food like that.
Pirates’ dainty food
Sea turtle was one of the pirates’ food materials. Sea turtles have a very slow metabolism, so they will stay alive for a long time when they are turned over. In this way, fresh meat was available for pirates and other seamen at any time.
Actually, food was always a problem for pirates. To get the provisions mentioned above, they usually robbed ships, plundered local ports and villages, or just purchased whatever they want.
The food on pirate ships
Normally food supplies were obtainable when sailing in the waters close to shore, such as the Caribbean or Mediterranean. But for long distance voyages away from the American Continent, especially the travels across the Pacific, the provision problem was a nightmare. A lot of people suffered horrible scurvy due to a lack of vitamin C.
The salmagundi was the food closely related to western pirates. It might be originated from France, and was spread over the Atlantic to West Africa and Madagascar. Pirates roasted and pickled any kind of minced meat with alcohol, mixed it with palm fruits, cabbages, anchovy oil, chopped herrings, over-cooked eggs, onions, olives and any vegetables available, finally got the extremely pungent salads. The salmagundi helped to prevent scurvy and was also an alternative to the salty food the pirates usually had.
The food on pirate ships
Long voyage was an unforgettable experience for pirates. In addition to marine disasters, they had to face the great threats of scurvy and hunger. Hunger was so common on ships that any living creatures onboard, like cats, mice and seabirds, would be stewed for food, even those old and weak when in extreme circumstances.