It’s called conch and it’s a must-eat in Nassau, the capital of New Providence, Bahamas. “Take it easy; just relaaaaax”, is what they say here in the Bahamas when one of our crew members glances at his watch uneasily.
Shouldn’t we have already headed out? We want to see the sunset… and how can the preparation of a salad actually take as much time as the entire lunch break?
Well, I admit, a little rest doesn’t hurt. I slowly adjusted to the way the Bahamians calculate time. This is a place where time stops and the clock ticks a little more slowly. So I just leaned back and pulled the straw with my fingers instead of tapping out a nervous staccato on the chair.
I was rather restless and uneasy, but then again, there was much to see and I realized that I had gotten a little fearful of my own courage. One of my travel credos is the following saying: I will be curious and at least try everything, especially when it comes to food. Certainly, no one needs to circumnavigate the globe for a portion of pasta with pesto sauce. “Yes, of course I’ll have a serving of conch salad (pronounced “Konk”),” I tell myself as if it’s nothing, while on our food tour of Nassau’s quaintest and trendiest spots.
Conch – marine snail as national specialty
The thing about Conch is that it’s actually a sea snail. If someone in Stuttgart would offer me a plate of the typical Weinberg variant (vineyard snail) of a snail, I would politely reject it. But in the Bahamas these giant sea snails are the national specialty and are therefore quite a significant part of Bahamian daily life. Even though conch is something very foreign to our European plates, as foodies we had to push ourselves to try it and participate in this cultural dish. They are freshly caught, served fresh on the fork, and can be found at any of the typical street stalls which are plentiful on the outskirts of Nassau. I probably don’t need to stress how important it is for this beast of the sea to be fresh, especially when it’s traditionally served raw. Because it is my greatest wish to finish this journey without getting sick in this moment, while waiting for my plate, I repeated the the mantra “they know what they’re doing.” Of course, Conch is prepared in many variations, fried or in a sandwich, a salad or meatballs, the possibilities are numerous. But Flo and I wanted to test the classics and therefore a conch salad was the first thing we ordered.
Directly from the bed of a truck, the conch is peeled out, cleaned and then served with onions, peppers, tomato, lemon juice and various spices. Like everything in the Bahamas, it takes a little while, but that leaves time to marvel and time for mantras. And while Flo diligently provided a distraction as he took photos of the wonderful surroundings, the snail made its way into the salad bowl.
Snails with Super Power
With its firm-white-flesh, in a taste test, conch somehow reminds of calamari and is very nutritious. It is not only eaten by the indigenous people because they enjoy it, but it is also said to enhance a mans libido. But, an enhanced libido is only possible if you dare to eat the reproductive organs of the conch. “Yes, sure,” we thought, and then we witnessed everyone else not making a big fuss out of it except for us Europeans. “Take it easy, relax. Different country – different way of life.”