Kitchen Mischief — Bahama Style!

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Photos cleverly snapped by Robin Shaw. Many thanks!

On a recent work trip to the Bahamas (seriously!), I encountered the MOTHER of all Mischief — Conch Salad.

I know, I know, I know — that’s not so weird, you say. And you’re right. Conch comes out of shell, like, I don’t know — clams? Right. So what’s the big damn deal?

I’ll tell you what the big damn deal was: The Preparation! See, here’s how it all went down…

David and I were taste-testing some local Bahamian beers, Kalik, to be exact.  It’s named after the sound cowbells make (Hey Mississippi State fans, got a new Official Beer for you!).

Meanwhile, our Bahama-baby-mama barteneder was assaulting a mango. I've never seen someone go to town on a mango like that!

Anyway, so we’re at this bar outside of the Nassau Straw Market, and my company’s CEO Bill and his wife Robin show up, RAVING about this must-have Conch Salad. They’re fans of Kitchen Mischief, and said I should totally check it out. Appreciative, yet hesitant, I was like, “Sure…”

So after a few more beers, Bill and Robin are INSISTING that I try the Conch Salad. And my resistance has been washed away by the Kaliks. I’m thinking, “OK, sure … we’ll go to a little restaurant, or street vendor, and I’ll try this Bahamian mainstay. No problem.” Famous last words.

So we follow Bill and Robin out of the bar, across the street, and over to THIS GUY.

"Can I take your order, mon?"

It’s no restaurant. It’s not even a street vendor. It’s a GUY. On a BOAT. Making a raw salad … ZOINKS!

According to the locals, conch is a powerful aphrodesiac. Whatever...my hair didn't grow a bit.

So Robin fishes some dollars out of her purse and hands them to Bill, who shouts down to Captain Conch and orders my salad. I watch, wide-eyed, as he dices onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, and conch, (on a BOAT!) scoops them up bare-handed, plops the mixture in a bowl, and squeezes lime juice on the top.

I was like, "Don't look at the cutting board! Don't look at the cutting board!"

So Bob Marley reaches up (from the BOAT!) and delivers my meal. Salad in hand, I’m oddly not scared. I mean, the idea of an unwashed Rastafarian bare-handedly preparing my RAW dinner on the deck of a dingy dinghy isn’t the most confidence-inspiring of culinary scenarios, but eh, oh well. It’s the Bahamas! And Kaliks are STRONG.

So what was it like? Really good, actually. Turns out raw conch has the consistency of cooked calamari. Tied together with the veggies, citrus juice, and salt, it was a really fresh, flavorful dish. Very interesting to eat. I kept waiting to chew into something terrifying (which you can tell by the pictures).

Things that make you go "Hmmm?"

Chewing, chewing...thinking about it...hasty resumption of chewing...

But that didn’t happen. It was very tasty — no crazy texture issues or slimy bits. Just fresh, good island food. If you get down to the Bahamas, meander down to the wharf, down some Kaliks, and go for it!

And by the way — many thanks  to Bill and Robin (and the Consultants!)  for a wonderful trip, and for introducing me to some fantastic Floating Kitchen Mischief!

PS: A Tropical Recipe
If you’re in the mood for a tropical treat that’s a bit more sanitary, try some grilled shrimp or fish with this Watermelon-Mango Salsa, one of my old favorites. I’m having it tonight and I can’t wait!

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