Remember this part of Forrest Gump?
Well, in the Bahamas, seafood comes any (and every) which way you want it. The most popular seafood treats are the giant, snail-like conch, crayfish, shrimp, and the clawless spiny lobster.
Take conch, for example.
Typical food shacks keep live conch on hand, cleaning them for each order. Most menus offer boiled conch, crack conch (deep-fried), grilled conch, and steamed conch. Some customers eat the sweet mollusk raw while others prefer it cooked. The creamy white flesh can be tossed with fresh lime juice, laid on a salad, layered in a sandwich, made into a grilled patty for a burger, or floated in a brothy soup. And in case you were hankering for fish for breakfast, you’re in business. Locals eat seafood for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Bubba Gump would be impressed.
Not a fish person?
There are plenty of other great foods from the Bahamas, many of which are also loved in the US south. Grits and johnnycakes are popular side dishes. Another side dish, Peas n’ Rice is made with pigeon peas (black-eyed peas), rice, bacon, green bell pepper, and seasonings. There is an endless list of souse (soups, rhymes with “cows”) using chicken and pork parts, oxtail, celery, peas, lime, and/or peppers. Coconut, pineapple, and bananas make regular appearances on dessert and main course menus. One dish that intrigues me is Rum Frizzled ham and bananas (both the ham and the bananas are fried). Put on toothpicks and served with a spicy chili-lime dipping sauce, this dish would make a great appetizer.
On the 29 Islands that make up the Bahamas, the seafood is practically caught to order, chilies and spices sizzle in coconut oil, and rum flows freely. However, each island also maintains its own personality and specialties. Here are a few examples:
Eleuthera means freedom. Small sweet “Eleuthera” pineapples grow on this island. The pineapple symbolizes hospitality because seafarers placed pineapples on their gate-posts to indicate they were home safe from their latest excursion.
This small island produces nearly a million pounds of salt for export by the Morton Salt Company.
Bimini bread, a sweet, yeast-risen sandwich bread, can be found on this chain of islands. Traditionally made at home, the bread has now been commercialized and is available for purchase at local supermarkets. Bimini was also author Ernest Hemingway’s hangout. The giant Merlin he writes about in The Old Man and the Sea is the national fish of the Bahamas.