Summer: Searching for Conch

On a recent trip to Cat Island, an out island in the Bahamas, we sought out directions on getting to the windward side of the island. Apparently there were several routes and as it turned out, the road we chose was the one we were told to avoid. We ended up on an abandoned air strip which led us to more dirt roads that led to a spider web of other dirt roads. Deciding on which one to explore became a challenge. Often times, they led to dead ends. We and our rental car were getting discouraged.

Finally, with a shout of “hurrah” we spotted a shallow inlet with hundreds of harvested conch shells heaped up at the water’s edge.

Two derelict boats were near by adding to the picturesque setting.

The shells were magnificent!  Each was covered with a thin brown skin that was flaky to the touch. Underside revealed a beautiful pink color, some brighter than others. We selected two to take home.

Back on the main road, we began our search for conch salad. After several stops, we pulled into a small roadside stand that we heard prepared this fresh traditional cerviche like dish as well as conch fritters.  After placing our order, the Bahamian reached into a bucket, selecting two live conchs and with his machete made a slit in the top of each shell, releasing the meat inside. It looked like a huge tongue as he pulled it out.

We sat down at a picnic table and watched as the man pounded the flesh to tenderize it.

His wife came out of the other building to bring us two cold Kalik Beers and to visit with us. She said that conch is known to make the weak strong and will help men with “sex power”. We all giggled. We didn’t know it was an aphrodisiac. We continued to watch her husband as he diced the colorful vegetables to mix with the conch meat and then he set it aside to marinate.

We continued our conversation with the friendly wife and through her, we learned of another route across the island that would take us to a bluff overlooking the ocean.

Apparently, a jack of all trades, she stood up as an old car pulled in. Grinning and laughing, she pumped gas from one of two pumps located on the island.

The salad was declared ready to eat. With a second Kalik Beer, we took our time, reviewing our day, and enjoyed eating our conch salad which was a little chewy, but nevertheless tasty.

After our farewells and promising to come back for more conch salad on our next trip, we headed up the road. It became clear that these magnificent shells don’t go to waste. We noticed them all over the island as yard and fence decorations. Some artisans make jewelry out of the porcelain like surface, while others carve it like scrimshaw.

Cat Island. More roads to explore and friendly people to meet.

Next time, we’ll try the conch fritters, too. It’s good to bring an appetite.

 Conch Salad

1 cup raw conch meat diced small
¼ cup diced celery
¼ cup green pepper
¼ cup diced onion
½ cup diced cucumber
2/3 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup lemon juice
Hot pepper and salt to taste
Dash of Tabasco
Mix well and let sit for at least 30 minutes
Serve individually on a bed of lettuce or as an appetizer

About travelerlynne

Traveler. Writer. Retired Educator.Traveling on and off the beaten path with my photographer husband. Volunteering locally as well as in Haiti and Tanzania, an enriching and humbling experience. A sun lover! Shelling, boating, fishing and watching sunsets. Growing mango, banana, key lime,and pineapple.Making smoothies and chutneys. Enjoying family and friends! Savoring each new day!
This entry was posted in Musings, Recipes ~ Food, Summer, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Summer: Searching for Conch

  1. Spiritual World Traveler says:

    Wow! Didn’t know a thing about the conch shell except what I saw on cartoons as a kid. They were used as blow horns! lol

    • That’s all we ever saw conchs used for in Key West and the Bahamas, but yes, it seems to have reached edible standards and now every tourist can go home with a piece of jewelry.

  2. Madhu says:

    Had no idea either! Guess they taste like any mollusk.

  3. Yes. Chewy, but worth the wait and to say you tried conch.

  4. this morning before i dashed to the museum, i opened and left a lot of posts in queue to read offline during quiet time. i regretted that i was unable to write as soon as possible to tell you how much i enjoyed this post! for a little while, i was no longer in an air conditioned museum (brrrrr!) but wandering backroads and happening upon a mountain of conch shells! the story unfolded naturally, and all of us were surely wishing to be there to witness the chop-chop chopping for the ceviche and to witness the cultural exchange! thanks for such a great post!
    if it were possible, i would punch the ‘like’ button a dozen times! z

  5. Subhan Zein says:

    It is so nice to have you visiting and following my blog. I really appreciate it. I hope you will enjoy each of your visits in my blog. 🙂
    Thank you again, and have a lovely day, my friend! 🙂

    Subhan Zein

  6. I’ve long wanted to find a beach with such beautiful shells – it seems a trip to the Bahamas will be in order. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience, Lynne!

  7. My pleasure, Tricia. There are so many beautiful beaches all over the world, but this just happens to be far enough away to call a vacation and yet close by. For my most special and closest beach, visit my post called Summer Solitude. Thanks for visiting my site.

  8. meanwhilein3 says:

    It is amazing how many conch shells you will find in the Bahamas. I remember my friend trying to figure out how to get one back with stinking up his luggage. On thing I noticed at least on the Island that we were on was the side dish of choice seemed to be mac n cheese, did you find the same thing on Cat Island?

  9. I always carry large and extra large zip lock bags on trips just to hold the “odorous stuff”. No, I can’t say we spotted mac n cheese on the menus. Since my husband is gluten intolerant, we might have just ignored it.

  10. Terrific images and that recipe looks worth raiding my kitchen this evening to conjure something up, but replacing the conch may be with tiger prawns or some lobster.

  11. Yes, tiger prawns or lobster. Probably not as chewy as conch. Thanks for your comment and visiting this site. Your photography is exceptional.

  12. fgassette says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog.


  13. Wonderful! As an English and literature teacher, I hear conch shell and I think LORD OF THE FLIES. Your post (and especially the last two photographs) have changed that. Good job!

  14. Thanks for stopping by and learning conch is not just a literary symbol.:) Travel is all about discovery and I am always learning.

  15. hilal achmar says:

    What a beautiful pics…. 🙂

  16. Jeanette says:

    I adore conch. I’ve been looking for it everywhere since our arrival in Ivory Coast. Sadly, it’s not available here. So yummy…. Great in fritters, but even better when smoked:-)

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