Fried and Fabulous

2 minute read
Penny Campbell

Bahamians know their seafood: grouper, snapper and lobster don’t come much finer than those found in the pristine waters that surround the 700 islands of their Caribbean nation. But what really gets the locals’ gastronomic juices flowing is the humble conch. When it comes to scoffing gastropods, only the French and their escargots can rival the Bahamians’ love affair with sea snails. Available in variations from salad to stew to chowder, the flesh of the conch (pronounced konk) is white, sweet and most closely reminiscent in flavor to clam. But in the Bahamas’ own original fast foodubiquitous across the archipelagothe mollusk is turned into a fritter. Made from ground conch meat (it’s on the chewy side, so is often minced to tenderize it), onion, bell peppers and hot seasonings mixed with batter and deep fried, conch fritters have an almost indefinable,spicy-with-a-hint-of-the-ocean taste. A home-cooked staple, conch fritters also feature as appetizers in many a Bahamian restaurant. Try them (six for $4.75) at local favorite The Poop Deck: sit on the veranda overlooking the harbor and yacht-watch, or enjoy the views of Paradise Island just across the water. But if you’ve worked up an appetite climbing the 65 steps of Nassau’s Queen’s Staircase (carved out of limestone by slaves at the end of the 18th century to mark 65 years of Queen Victoria’s reign), browsing its famous Straw Market or just lazing around on the beach, you may find the fritters taste best at a market stall where the dollops of batter are dropped into sizzling oil in front of your eyes ($2). You’ll risk burning your fingers, but you might gain a whole new understanding of the Bahamian soul.

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