This summer I went on a little vacation and took a cruise with my partner and her sister and fiance Don. The cruise was delightful (more on that later), and after a day of leaving the dock at Port Canaveral and cruising the seas, we finally landed in the Bahamas at the city of Nassau, capital of the Bahamas and home to Pleasure Island.
Of course there is much to see in the Bahamas but as a tourist on a cruise we had precious few hours on land before we had to head back to the ship. We walked around the famous straw market and saw all the various trinkets and gifts, but of course what really interested me was the food! And thankfully Don was up for a Tasty Chompin adventure as well (despite the reluctance of our other fellow cruisemates)
We were hoping to pick up some great street food a la Andrew Zimmern Bizarre Food on the Travel Channel, but we were disappointed when we asked about a place to get some and were pointed to McDonald’s down the street. Nevertheless, we were undaunted by this detour and scurried along our way to find some fresh bounty for our gastro treasure chests.
First stop, Claudette’s Native Foods, a shop located on the back of a pick up truck trailer. The inside looked cluttered with pans and pots and you could hear them clanging in the background as Claudette prepared her concoctions. We ordered some conch fritters and Don ordered a jerk chicken meal. The conch was far between but there was much dough in this fried conception of conch fritters (a popular food as we later found out). Don’s jerk chicken was good and spicy, with many bones, served next to a piling of rice.
Claudette’s Native Food
Along the same stretch facing the sea, a man dressed in red long sleeve shirt, a decorative tie, and black slacks walked along with a pan of coconut bread. We stopped him along his way and asked him about his baked goods and he replied with a question, “Are you married?”
“Because the coconut meat, its good for the man.” wink 😉
What an odd man…
We bought one from him and before he went on his way we asked him where we could get some good fresh conch, at which time he pointed us down the street to the Conch Man, this time mentioning to us that “conch, its good for the man”. wink 😉
The Conch Man is the subject of some serious contention among our party. Our lady friends were completely abject, even abhorred, to our desire to seek out this dubious Conch Man and try his goods.
We found him by the dock, head full of dread locks, half asleep and half awake, in a dingy river boat filled with empty conch shells, accompanied by a local sea wench on his side. “Do you want some conch salad? ” he questioned us from his unsanitary ship.
“Yes of course, we heard you are the best around Conch Man” replied Don as I winced at the flies fluttering about the Conch Man’s ship.
He took out a shiny pink conch shell, and pulled the conch out with his hands and washed it in a bucket of water. With the same bucket of water he washed the tomatos, onions, lemons, and cutting knife and began to chop the ingredients together, finally placing them into a styrofoam bowl near by. “Holy sh–, I hope I don’t die from diarrhea or dysentary from this” were thoughts that came to mind at that time. I really didn’t want this trip to the Bahamas to be my last…
As we watched him prepare, a Bahamian man walked by and proclaimed to all who cared to hear, “HEYYY its the CONCH MAN!! YEAHHH” . We were reassured that this was the right decision.
The Conch salad tasted…quite decent, a blend of sour flavors, crispy textures with the fresh chewy conch meat. And thankfully I did not have any irritable bowel symptoms afterwards, what a miracle.
Great article! Thanks for sharing!! ….Cindy…
I made a similar trip as you did on my last cruise to Nassau and had some of that delicious conch salad! I wonder if it was the same guy…anyway, the conch was wonderful. Every time I cruise I always try to sample the local cuisine, wondering as you did about the cleanliness….but I figure I'll just follow it up with a couple Goombay Smashes or some other booze and I'm good! Barbara
I have a picture of Claudette's Native Food truck from when I was there a few years ago!
I'd be kind of scared to try that conch, but I imagine any post-meal sickness won't be worse than catching the Norovirus from cruise ship buffets…