conch shells and taxi drivers

I learned a lot on my recent trip to the Bahamas.  Put a bunch of people together 24/7 at an all-inclusive resort and you learn things!  You learn things such as the importance of adding a little water to eggs when making an omelet (tried it, works great!) and a super easy recipe for strawberry jam (trying that one later today!).  You learn how to make new drinks (hmm, it’s all food related!), ten ways to tie one of those sarongs that they sell on the beach (something I’ll use just all the time in NJ!), and how to tell who is on their honeymoon in the Bahamas (french manicure!).  You also learn things about others that you wish you did not learn!   But, I quickly found out that if you really want to know about the Bahamas you don’t consult a guide book, a website, or even ask the concierge, you ask a taxi driver!

dancing at fish fry

We went “off campus” a number of times and always took a taxi or bus.  The drivers were super friendly!  Probably hustling for a tip, but we did learn a lot about the island through them.  We learned about the economy (banking comes in 2nd after tourism), medicine (they use a lot of expired prescription drugs), and, scariest of all, that they are allowed to drink and drive.  We learned this little fact while in a taxi with a driver who had a couple of drinks (hopefully water) while waiting for us to finish dinner.  He thought it would be funny to tell us this as he jerked  the car back and forth while driving on one of those round-a-bouts.  Ha Ha…so not funny!  We asked him how he knew if he drank too much and he said if he crashed into a tree and a hearse drove him away, then he knew it was too much!  Great.  We survived that ride and were even happy to have had him as a driver because he had brought us to one of our favorite spots on the island, Fish Fry.

fish fry

If you go to the Bahamas you must have conch.  Everyone says it, “oh, you have to try the conch!”  And if you want to have conch, have it where the locals eat.  On Nassau that would be Fish Fry.  (Okay, it’s now locals plus a lot of tourists!)  Fish Fry is a group of ten or so colorful shacks that all serve local seafood.  I convinced my group to go one night, but they were all quite concerned when we arrived because the places really are shacks!  But then everyone remembered the alternative was a tasteless buffet back at the resort, so they decided to try it out.  Our trusty taxi driver told us to try a place called Anchorage and we had a great time!  Service is SLOW!!!  Island time, right?  That is really slow when you are used to Northeast America time!  We all ordered conch plus something and spent our time while we waited for the food hanging with our waiter.  He was a fun guy who decided we needed to have the full conch experience.  So he motioned us to follow him behind the restaurant, which we all (stupidly?) did!

conch right off the boat

The restaurant was out over the ocean and, around back, there was a dock and boat filled with conch.  Our waiter grabbed one of the conch, which was still alive, for us to see.  It’s basically a giant sea snail!  Then he showed us how you get the meat out of the shell.  You pound it!  He hit it on the table and then took a hammer to it and there it was, very fresh conch.  We went back to our table and he brought us the meat to try.  It really doesn’t have much taste and is very chewy.  We passed the bowl around and waited another 45 minutes until our actual meals came.  The food was great and the conch was much better now that it had been cooked with fresh spices, vegetables, and other seafood.  The best part was, we knew it was fresh!

“as seen on…”

A few nights later we went back to Fish Fry to a different restaurant, Twin Brothers.  Yes, this was the recommendation of our bus driver who, first, had provided us with a free tour of half of the island!  I was excited to go here until I saw the “As seen on NBC, CBS, and Top Chef”.  It would obviously be good but not some random local spot.  We were now tourists!  The service was a bit faster and this time we tried the conch fritters.  Very good!  I definitely feel like I had the full Bahamian experience because I “tried the conch”!


twin brothers

So, next time you’re in the Bahamas, remember to turn to the taxi and bus drivers for the answers to all of your questions about the island.  I’m sure they’ll have some great suggestions and you will end up in some unique spots!  Oh, and don’t forget to try the conch!

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