Making authentic pirate foods for a pirate-themed potluck can be difficult, especially since rotted meat, maggot, cold porridge and hard tack biscuits are not everyone's cup of tea. The best way to to cook around a pirate theme is to focus on seafood and pirate “decor” or displays in the food's presentation. A few items that pirates actually ate, such as pickles and dried meat, make great potluck appetizers.
Fish n' Chips
Fish n' chips is a great dish to take to a potluck as long as you have some way to keep it relatively warm. The fish pieces should be small enough to pick up and eat as an appetizer, so there are enough to go around. Keep the food in metal containers. If there is no heating station, replace the fries with salt and vinegar chips; cold French fries are not particularly appetizing.
Pot of Clams
Depending on the type of potluck, whether for children, adults or a mixed-aged crowd, a pot of steaming clams cooked in butter and white wine is a great appetizer for a small- to medium-sized crowd. Provide small bowls and toothpicks for scooping out the clams. To reduce the risk of bacteria growth, only make clams if you have a hot plate or grill available to keep them warm.
Smoked salmon, crab dip, lobster dip and clam dip are all summery seafood dips that fit nicely with the nautical pirate theme. Dips should be served in bowls set on top of ice, with plenty of sliced bread, crackers and chips to spread the dip on.
A fun nautical-themed snack for kids is a Goldfish Cracker mix. There is no fish actually involved in the mix, just fish-shaped goodies. Mix Goldfish Crackers, peanuts, almonds, cranberries, pretzels, Swedish fish candy and chocolate chips together to create a fish-themed snack mix. To add in a bit of pirate's treasure, mix in a few gold-wrapped chocolate coins. Serve in large serving bowls with paper cup scoops.
Though not technically a pirate food, chicken drumsticks and wings are good messy, finger foods for a potluck that embrace the rough and dirty pirate attitude. Chicken works well particularly for potlucks with children, since many children are picky eaters when it comes to seafood.
When in doubt, toothpick flags can inject a pirate theme into any party food. Small toothpicks or skewers with pirate Jolly Rogers flags attached to the end can be purchased from party supply stores and stuck into virtually any type of appetizer. Miniature hot dogs, meatballs, meat and cheese cubes, and other small treats instantaneously become pirate themed with a Jolly Roger flag stuck in them.
Pickles and Jerky
Actual pirates lived mostly off of dried and pickled foods. Dried meat, dried fish, dried beans and pickled items were the only things that would not spoil after weeks out at sea. A large pickle platter with pickles, pickled onions, olives, peppers and green beans might not be exactly what the pirates ate on the ship, but it's close. Beef jerky is another snack that pays tribute to dried meat and fish.
Most black-colored food is not particularly appetizing; however, black food fits the pirate theme by drawing on the black Jolly Roger, black pirate's hat and eye patch. Black is the color of pirates. Pasta or risotto dyed black with squid ink is a great novelty item to serve. However, the best black items are desserts, such as chocolate cupcakes with black and white frosting, black and white cookies, black-dyed French macaroons, peppermint patties, black licorice and jelly beans.
For those feeling adventurous, making actual hard tack sea biscuits is an option. Hard tack contains only flour, salt and water and is baked slowly at a low temperature to dry the biscuit out. For a more appetizing sea biscuit, bake homemade rolls, Irish soda bread, Anzac biscuits, scones, cookies or any other type of “biscuit.”
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