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Pirate cuisine

When not plundering the seas, I like to Nancy about Tacoma’s shoreline in search of buccaneer grub.

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Pirate food on the high seas tastes like crap. Food holds often flood, rotting our flour and sugar. We heavily salt our vegetables and meats destroying all flavor, so Cook needs lots of spices, which he keeps under lock and key, to improve the taste.

After weeks at sea our fresh food depletes and we take to fishing what we can find, or we shoot sea birds if any come our way. In between those lucky finds, we chow on hard tack literally made three years ago.

We drink mostly grog — a combination of rum and our fresh water stores, which often develop a layer of slimy algae after a few weeks at sea. We carry a few barrels of flat ale with us as well.

No wonder pirates rape, plunder and pillage. We’re hungry and pissed off!

Shore call

Along Tacoma’s waterfront, within walking distance of the Tall Ships, food mellows our mood. British pirates, back from marauding gold off Spanish ships, take easily to Paddy Coyne’s Irish Pub (815 Pacific Ave.), which serves island food of a gloomy nature.

At Paddy’s place, the Guinness braised Irish beef stew puts the yo-ho-ho in my step. A generous portion, the meat is tenderer than sea gull, and for a real treat, the vegetables don’t have hair growing on them. Coupled with a pint of Guinness (a little colder than I prefer), I feel satiated and less likely to stick my hand in the till.

Spanish pirates, after bitch slapping British rum ships, feel at home inside The Matador Restaurant and Tequila Bar (721 Pacific Ave). Seventy-eight, count them, 78 tequilas grace the menu at this dark, steamy joint — which beats the hell out of grog. The smoldering sex appeal here might be asking for trouble when pirates are concerned, however, keep the pina coladas coming and we’ll even do the dishes.

Closer to the ships, The Sea Grill (1498 Pacific Ave) caters to the fancy pirate boys, or in other words, Greek pirates. While the Grill features many excellent seafood items, the crown royale is the Tableside Seafood Salad — Dungeness crab, bay shrimp, hearts of palm, avocado and sake vinaigrette. Fresher than the sea turtle Cook serves over a bed of kelp, the sweet seafood salad blends nicely with the nautical colors and large windows overlooking the city.

Here in the 21st century, pirates typically lord over the waters of West Africa, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. The waterfront offers nothing from the African continent; however, excellent Indonesian/ Bangladesh, or Southeast Asian cuisine in general resides inside Indochine (1924 Pacific Ave.). I love everything on the menu, but I can’t live without the Summer Basil chicken salad — a tangy, sweet tossing of mango, pineapple, basil leaves and chicken in a peanut dressing. I’d literally kill for this salad (OK, I’d probably happily kill for a Clark Bar, but that’s beside the point).


Forty-one vendors plan to offer food in the Tall Ships dock area this year. Notables include Paddy Coyne’s, Southern Kitchen and Brother’s BBQ. The other 38 places read like any other local fair with shaved ice, ice cream, gyros, burgers, strawberry shortcake, elephant ears, Phillies, Asian noodles and gastritis.


I’ve met many pirate fans in the South Sound, but recently I discovered Tacoma’s Paul Gardner and his family, creators of Barrelno.51 BBQ Sauces and Rubs ( They put a pirate right on their label for Buccaneer’s Plunder BBQ Dry Rub.

“All our labels have a nautical theme reflecting our family’s love of the sea,” Gardner says.

When not rubbing his own meat or cooking up a Mulligatawny soup (a favorite of Barbados pirates), Gardner prefers plundering the Olive Garden or La Fondita Mexican Restaurant in the Proctor District.

Very un-pirate like, Gardner also donates 25 percent of profits from his products to charities including The Crossing ministry in Tacoma.

The Gardner family doesn’t wear pirate garb at home, but I can say they see their life’s work as part food processors and part-time PR campaigners.

“We all know that the pirates of the past were not exactly the romantic figures we portray in Hollywood, but the present day organizations that portray pirates are charitable, fun loving groups that keep alive an era of society’s past that adds to the flavor if not the experience of the human condition,” says Gardner. “We portray pirates in a positive light now if only to help nullify the past actions of such rogues. What’s more, it’s just plain fun.”   I appreciate the sentiment.

Pirate chicks

Pirates kick butt, however, in Tacoma, lady pirates kick ass. The Marauding Mollys, female roller derby-ites in the Dockyard Derby Dames league, know both how to bite a person’s head off as well as how to get a good bite to eat. When not body slamming other Derby Dames, these Mollies call the Acme Tavern (1310 Tacoma Ave) their home turf.

“They got the coldest beer in town not to mention the stiffest drinks — and our Flag hangs there ... Arrrg,” says Psycopath Chick. “My diet consists of rum and PBR and an occasional taco.”

When not eating, these lady pirates enjoy a good pillage.

“I knock down weak vampire chicks, tiny little Irish girls, and slow homewrecking battle axes ... on wheels ... in fishnets,” explains SARAted Edge.

And, as for male pirates?

“Arrg, they’re fun to play with,” says Vicious DivaLicious.

Psycopath Chick agrees.

“I think male pirates are pretty cool — when they’re dead.”

That gets me so hot.

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