Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Tue October 20 2015

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  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | October 20, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Top 5 Classic Bahamian Dishes

    Top 5 Classic Bahamian Dishes

    All photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    Caribbean cuisine often gets lumped into a tropical/seafood/jerk box, but each island boasts culinary nuances that every traveler should explore.

    Bahamian cuisine mixes British, African and native Arawak flavors into tasty offerings. There are 700 Bahamian islands, (30 inhabited) where fish and other morsels from the sea are an expected staple, along with an assortment of dishes, some familiar, some more unusual.

    Because the cruise ports of Nassau, Paradise Island and Freeport offer a substantial array of international cuisine, it's easy to miss traditional Bahamian fare. But you haven't really experienced the Bahamas unless you've sampled the local culinary traditions, so check these out on your next trip:

    1. Conch

    The ultimate Bahamian food, conch is the country’s national dish and served everywhere from the beach to high-end restaurants. It's a large, edible sea snail with a chewy texture, and locals prefer the Queen conch variety.

    The dish is so popular that it's prepared in a myriad of ways. Conch salad, where fresh conch is marinated in citrus juices and tossed with peppers, tomatoes and onions, is a signature dish, as well as cracked conch, which is tenderized and deep-fried and served with a dipping sauce. Battered and fried conch fritters are a popular appetizer, while conch burgers served up with French fries are another option. Conch's reported aphrodisiac effect is another reason for its appeal.

    2. Boiled Fish with Grits

    A prized breakfast dish, boiled fish is a savory soup cooked with grouper fillets, potatoes, peppers and onions. The name is actually misleading since the fish isn't boiled but simmered into a flavorful broth. It might sound strange to eat soup for breakfast but this filling dish is known to supply energy for the rest of the day. A key accompaniment is a bowl of grits, or coarsely ground corn that is ladled into the soup for extra goodness.

    3. Red, Yellow or Hog Snapper

    You will spot lots of snapper on local menus and although red is the most common, yellowtail and hog (or hogfish) are also common choices. I'm a huge red snapper fan and discovered that the yellow and hog varieties are just as delicious, differing only in color and size. Fish is typically served whole, with the head still attached, prepared grilled, fried or stewed in a rich tomato based sauce.

    4. Souse

    Bahamians love their stews and soups, and souse is a hallmark of most tables. Served at any time of the day, this spicy concoction of meat, chili peppers and lime is also a notable hangover cure. Chicken is a common feature but pig feet, tails and ears are also typical. The dish is usually served with johnny cake or fluffy cornbread.

    5. Guava Duff

    The quintessential Bahamian dessert. Every cook keeps their own recipe so it's fun to sample the different takes. The basics: fresh guavas are rolled into dough, wrapped in a cloth and then boiled for three hours. It's topped off with a buttery sauce, usually laced with rum.


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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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