The Bahamas is the first place The Traveling Ninja (Will), and I traveled to. On a whim, we booked a trip, and hoped for the best. We had really only been together a few months, and needless to say, I was a little nervous about spending the weekend, with no cell phone signal, or wifi access, with someone I had only known for a couple months. I think he was too! But, it all worked out, and here we are, several months later, cooking food for our EAT THE WORLD challenge! In case you have missed it, EAT THE WORLD is our attempt to cook and eat a meal from every country in the world, and we're like ... 0.05% of the way there!
The Bahamas is just as beautiful as people say, and even more so in person than in pictures. Of course, unless you're Floridian, many people only visit the islands via Cruise ships (like us), so your perspective of the Bahamas is filtered through that particular lens. On the cruise I took with Will, your first stop in the Bahamas is Coco Cay, an island privately owned by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. The following day you make it to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. Again, it is a port city, but it is more authentic than Coca Cay that's for sure. On our cruise, we went kayaking on Coca Cay and snorkeling. The tide was low, so the kayaking was a little bit strange but it also meant we got to see little conch shells everywhere, and some manta rays and sting rays. The snorkeling at Coca Cay isn't much to write home about, but then it is an artificial reef! On our day at Nassau, we went to a private little island, where they do the dolphin encounters. I'm not too sure how I feel about that kind of thing, so we didn't do that, but instead spent the afternoon swimming in the lagoon and enjoying the sunshine. We headed back to Nassau which is fun to explore - there are a lot of great old forts and my favorite is the Queen's Staircase. Will hired a taxi driver to take us around the capital real quick, and he gave us an informal tour too. The Queen's Staircase is made up of 65 steps which was carved out of the limestone wall. It was carved out by slaves. The staircase honors Queen Victoria, as the Bahamas is a former colony of Britain, and was originally built to provide a protected escape route to Fort Fincastle. It's a really impressive and beautiful place to visit, and Will and I enjoyed our quick excursion here.
The Traveling Ninja and I really enjoyed our first trip ever. It was kind of scary to commit to a weekend at sea with someone you've only known a few months, but we had an incredible time, and I'm really glad we both decided to be spontaneous and enjoy ourselves! If you are ever wanting to really find out more about someone, going somewhere with them without cellphone signal is certainly the way to do it - although I wouldn't recommend you do that with just anyone!! I'd love to visit more of the islands though, and stay there, without the cruise ship vibes. Sometimes it is hard to get away from that experience! For example, our recipe for this challenge involves Cracked conch - a staple on the Bahamas, and yet we never once tried it or saw it offered while we were there. I'm glad we got to try it, even if it was from Will's kitchen in Boca Raton, Florida.
Cracked Conch and Bahamian Rice and Peas
Recipe for Cracked Conch
- 1 lb conch
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- Set deep fryer to 350 degrees.
- Clean the conch using lime or lemon juice in salt water. Ensure all the colorful bits have been cut away, preserving as much white meat as possible.
- Pound the conch meat with the jagged end of a meat mallet until the meat is nearly shredded.
- Use the salt and pepper to season.
- Mix the eggs in one bowl and in another bowl place the flour.
- In the egg mixture, dip the conch pieces and let excess drip off. Then place in the flour, ensuring it is coated.
- Rest the conch pieces in the deep fryer, 3 minutes each until golden brown.
Recipe for Bahamian Rice and Peas
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups long grain white rice (uncooked)
- 1 small onion
- 1 small sweet pepper
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil
- thyme, salt and pepper to season
- 1 can pigeon peas
- Dice the onion and sweet pepper.
- Fry onion, sweet pepper and thyme in the oil in a pot.
- Add the tomato paste and stir in, adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the pigeon peas and stir well.
- Add the water and bring to a boil.
- Add the rice and stir well, lowering the heat to medium with the pot uncovered.
- Stir occasionally.
- When the water has been absorbed by the rice, put the stove to low heat and cover the pot. Leave to steam until fully cooked.
The Traveling Ginger Verdict
Wow! I was surprised by this dish! It is really easy, if you can find the conch. Living by the ocean, and 60 km from the Bahamas, it's super easy to find it! But I did have to search it out at our local sea food market instead of a place like Whole Foods which I thought might have it. Apart from waking up my boyfriends poor sick roommate with the bashing of the conch, the recipe was a lot of fun! It was really delicious, although the next time I make it, I would have a spicy mayo dipping sauce, or maybe season the conch batter with something instead. It was a little bit bland, but it also allowed the seafoody flavor to exist too. The TN LOVED this dish too!
The Traveling Ninja Verdict
Will's right to have his verdict published was revoked for this challenge, as he failed to produce a quote that was appropriate and not an innuendo for something else.
Movie Pairing: Pirates of the Caribbean (Dead Mens Chest and At World's End)
Ok, the TN is responsible for this choice too! Neither of these films were filmed strictly on the Islands of the Bahamas. Only a couple of scenes were - some of which I think truly offer the most beautiful landscapes. The scenes which involve the chest are all filmed in the Bahamas. That clear blue water and white sand - Bahamas. The rest of the movies? Not so much... But Will figured it is still the Caribbean so! I don't feel like we need so much of a movie write up here so!
Have you been to the Bahamas or any other island countries before? What did you think? Tell me in the comment section below :)