Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Word Origins - Pirates of the Barbecue

I saw this fun factoid on the History channel this morning and Wikipedia confirms it:

Buccaneer is a term that was used in the later 17th century in the Caribbean Islands. The term "buccaneer" comes from the French word "boucanier". Boucaniers originally were French hunters who were poaching cattle and pigs on western Hispaniola. They would smoke the meat on wooden frames, "boucans", so that it could be saved for a later time. The boucaniers were taught this technique by the local Arawak tribes from Santo Domingo, calling the method Barbicoa - which is where the word and method of Barbecue originated. The word was adopted in English as "buccaneer."

I just love stuff like that.

Apparently, as soon as the Spanish had successfully conquered all of the western hemisphere (The Spanish Main), they started leaving cattle and pigs on Caribbean islands so that there would always be food for the ships sailing back and forth to Spain. When the French, English, and Dutch heard about this they started sneaking around the Caribbean poaching the live stock. This encouraged the governments back home to hire the boucaniers as a free-lance navy in order to steal land and treasure from the Spanish. This was the origin of the Pirates of the Caribbean: privateers and kings of the barbecue.