Week 1 Bahamas: Bahamian Food

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Every country has its own special cuisine. During my stay, I tried some of my favorite foods. One of them is sheep tongue souse. Instead of wasting such an incredible source of protein and deliciousness, Bahamians stew the mammalian muscles in a briny pot of salted water, allspice, cloves,pepper, and onions.
The best thing to eat with any soupy meal, including this one, is Johnny cake, a thick moist cake/bread served best with a thick layer of melted butter.

Another food that looks less appetizing as a whole creature before its prepped for the pot is the crab. The crab that forms an important part of Bahamian culinary genius is a sea scavenger that will literally eat anything. In order to make the crustacean more appetizing, crabs are caught then kept in pens where they are fattened on bread and fruits for extended periods of time. If you’re lucky to have a pen outside, then you can have fresh crabs to cook in meals.
It’s pretty dangerous to catch a crab if you don’t know what you’re doing. With their large pincers and deathly grip they have been known to sever fingers and could possibly kill infants. The trick with catching them is to lightly step on their backs as their line of sight doesn’t cover their back end too well, nor can their pincers reach their backs. They need their pincers to intake their own food and water, but When severing their pincers from their bodies for food prep, it’s important to avoid pulling them off in such a way that it creates a hole in the endoskeleton that could promote insect growth. When “armless” however, crabs can lay on their backs and snip at bread and water with small lid-like lips.

Some staple fish to try are snapper and Nassau grouper. great-tasting Ones that are toxic if not killed and/or cleaned properly include the bonefish and the barracuda. Fish are descaled and cooked whole (skin, head, eyes, bones, and tail). Many Bahamians fry their fish in a shallow pan of oil (my personal favorite). Because the fish is cooked whole, you cannot eat it from head to tail (or vice versa), but must remember to start no one side, and then remove the vertebral column before eating the second side.

And how can one forget about conch. With its reputed aphrodisiac qualities, this mollusk is makes a delicious foundation for numerous Bahamian dishes. As one of my favourite snacks, conch can be eaten raw as a salad with diced tomatoes, onions, green peppers, red peppers, and poured into orange or lemon juice. It can be stewed in tomato sauce, thyme, and other seasonings or battered and fried to make “cracked conch.” In smaller pieces, with a less flakey batter, conch can also be used to make conch fritters, which is dipped into a sauce mixed from ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.

If you get homesick and would like regular American fast food fare (with slight menu modifications) you could always stop at any of the numerous franchises operating on a few of the islands.

If you plan on buying groceries, remember that 1 Bahamian dollar is equal to 1 US dollar in the Bahamas and food items, like all Bahamian commodities, tend to be very expensive.

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