The art of buccaneering meat may be as old as time itself. Buccaneering ( book-ah-neer-ing ) meat is a time honoured tradition here in Trinidad and Tobago. Thus, for this post we will have to take a dive into our history to get an understanding of the word “buccaneering”.
History of Buccaneering Meat
The first thought that comes to mind when you think of the word would be the buccaneers that roamed the Caribbean Sea and attacked the Spanish ships for their bounty. But, where did they get that name? As it turns out, the name buccaneer is derived from the Arawak word buccan which means a wooden frame for smoking meat. Perhaps, the wayfaring seafarers learnt this method from the Amerindians they traded or lived with. And, this is where we turn our looking glass upon Trinidad and Tobago where this method of preserving meat is still practiced.
Preserving the Wild Meat
As you would see in the upcoming pictures this is the exact method that was used. The wild meat (e.g. agouti) was placed over a wooden frame and smoked for some time. As a method of preserving meat, this method was used a lot long time where there weren’t any refrigerators on the island. It was commonplace to see meat being preserved in this way in most homes of yesteryear, especially those in the countryside where the men hunted wild animals in order to add a bit of protein to everyday meals.
Hunters used this method exclusively. When they hunted in the forest for days, the journey home was a long way off so this was a necessity. They would setup a camp before going off in search of wild game in the forest or “sentry”* a wild animal where tracks or signs of feeding under a tree were seen. It is at the camp that the buccaneering would be done. This would ensure that the meat would last a long time before they got back home.
What you need
For the smoking process certain bushes like black sage, and fever grass (lemon grass) were used to give the meat a particular flavour while it smoked over the fire. The fire would be set low so as to allow more smoke than heat to “take” the meat, thus gently drying the meat without overly cooking it. Common animals hunted include Agouti, Manicou (Opossum), Lappe, Deer, Tattoo (armadillo) and Anteater.
A Quick Look at the Process of buccaneering meat
When I thought of doing this post I wanted to present it exactly as the hunters would do it so off to the countryside I went with an Agouti to buccaneer. My uncle showed me how it was done back then when my father, grandfather and he hunted in the forest.
Now, you may wonder how the “buccaneered” meat was cooked afterwards so let me explain. Usually the meat was hung up in a “crocus” bag close to the fireside in the kitchen so that smoke would always “hit” it while you’re cooking daily meals. That even ensured that the meat was smoked/ preserved a bit more. When the meat was ready to be cooked a piece of the meat would be cut and placed in water to rehydrate, then it was used. However, in our case, we cooked the Agouti right after so the re-hydration part wasn’t necessary.
So here’s Bucaneering Meat Trinistyle.
Click on the page number to view the steps in the process of buccaneering meat.
WARNING: SOME OF THE PICTURES ARE VERY GRAPHIC. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED