Talk about eating local! There is nothing more local than eating raw conch on an island where they grow the conch and harvest them right out back...that's what Queen Conch on Harbour Island is all about--and if you would have told me I'd love raw conch (especially after staring one in the face), I'd have said no. But I tried it and it is good. Very good. Better than cooked.
Everyone in Harbour Island, Bahamas, says you must eat at Queen Conch. Every island worth its salt has its ultimate beach-shack restaurant that is nothing much to look at but serves food straight from the soul of the island. But the Queen Conch delivers on many levels.The first thing you notice is the big pile of conch shells on the beach out back. A guy is literally pulling them from the water and harvesting them right there, and then chopping a hole in the shell to cut out the conch. Uncleaned shells are free for the taking. Cleaned ones that won't smell are $5.
At the counter, you can order cooked conch or conch fritters, which are all good. But the real treat is the raw conch salad. Maya ordered it and had to wait and wait because apparently, the raw stuff is made in a separate "kitchen" (a counter right on the street), and there is a long wait for it. But it's worth the wait. Chopped raw onions, peppers, and tomatoes in a ceviche-style citrus brine with "scorched" conch, meaning cut up. Yum. You can eat it with the tiny bit of hot sauce they serve, too--tiny because that hot sauce is really, really hot. Even Lucia (age 5) loved the raw conch, and she had watched one being butchered for bait that morning while bonefishing.
Look, you can go on a cruise or to a big resort and casino on your spring break, but take me to an island with a shack on the water and I am happy as can be.
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com