Sunday, 28 July 2019

a buccaneering buffet

Atlas Obscura presents a fascinating profile of ex-pirate and food writer William Dampier (*1651 – †1715) whose explorations were a span bridging the Golden Age of the exploits of Empire of Sir Walter Raleigh and James Cook with the later scientific expeditions of Alexander von Humboldt, Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin, Dampier’s travelogue accompanying the latter on the HMS Beagle.
Though also responsible in part for propagating the portrayal of aboriginal peoples as less than human, ultimately court-martialed for cruelties perpetrated in Australia and whose valuing of cargo—an exotic staple crop, breadfruit, for export to struggling colonies—over the well-being of crew informed Mutiny on the Bounty (circumnavigating the globe three times, also inspired Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels), without Dampier’s gustatory sense of swash-buckling and adventurous appetite, our palette might not have the taste for soy-sauce, bananas, cashews, barbeque or guacamole—to name a few. Fortunately, other delicacies sampled, like matinees and flamingos, did not catch on.