Eating and Drinking in the Bahamas

Eating and Drinking in the Bahamas is an adventure in itself. Bahamina food is varied, intersting, and tasty, to say the least. I love it! The larder of the Bahamas is the sea that surrounds it; seafood is the staple.

Feast from the Sea:

Photograph of Bahamian LobsterThe conch – pronounced “konk” – is chief among the many varieties of goodies gathered from the ocean. Claimed by the locals to be an aphrodisiac, conch can be prepared in numerous ways: for conch salad the flesh is chopped, spiced, and eaten raw with vegetables and lime juice; cracked conch is beaten and fried; and, finally, there are conch fritters. Be sure to try conch salad before you leave; it’s delicious.

Photograph of a grouperFish, especially grouper, is the principal fare of the Bahamian people. It’s served many ways, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Bahamian lobster (Americans call it crayfish) is plentiful, often large, and not as expensive as it is in the States. Try minced lobster, a mixture of shredded lobster meat cooked with tomatoes, green peppers and onions, and served in the shell.

Fishy Delights:

Fish is prepared in a number of ways, the names of which are often confusing. Boil fish is served for breakfast. It’s cooked with salt pork, green peppers and onions, and served with a generous portion of grits. Stew fish is prepared with celery, tomatoes, onions, and spices, all combined in a thick brown gravy; it is also served for breakfast. Steamed fish is cooked in a tomato base and is as tasty as it is novel.

Traditional Foods:

Bahamians also eat a lot of crab, chicken, pork, and mutton. Almost everything is served with huge portions of peas and rice – a concoction of pigeon peas, peppers, celery, tomatoes, and rice, seasoned and cooked until golden brown.

For dessert, try guava duff, a Bahamian delicacy made by spreading guava fruit pulp on a sheet of dough. It’s then rolled and boiled, cut into slices and served with a thick white sauce.

Other than fish, most of the food eaten on the islands is imported, which makes it somewhat expensive. While restaurants on the Out Islands tend to serve mostly Bahamian foods, more and more American fare is making its way onto Bahamian tables. You can find a good steak or prime rib and the inevitable French fries at most of the popular restaurants in Nassau and Freeport. And almost all of the American fast-food chains are represented: McDonalds, Burger King, KFC. There’s even a Pizza Hut on Abaco. But to avoid the local food is to miss a great eating experience.

Drinks:

Popular drinks are the Bahama Mama, the Goombay Smash, and the Yellow Bird. Bahamians also drink lots and lots of beer, mostly the local brew: a fine golden beer called Kalik. Be sure to try it. Imported beers from America and Europe are also available but, like everything else that has to be imported, they’re expensive. For something really different, try one of the locally brewed sodas with exotic names.
All drinks on the islands are expensive. Be prepared to pay up to $7 for a bottle of beer in a restaurant, $7 for cocktails. Even non-alcoholic cocktails kids can consume in large quantities are pricey. A Coke or locally made soda can cost up to $4.

During the day, hot tea is the drink of preference. If you want iced tea, be sure to specify that when ordering. On most of the islands, the water is pure and safe to drink straight from the tap.

Nassau’s water is imported from Andros by ship and, by the time it reaches the consumer, the taste is not what you might like. It’s best to drink only bottled water in Nassau if only because of that.

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Getting There:

For visitors arriving by air, the Bahamas are served through Nassau by most US airlines and by international airlines from Canada and Europe, and to a slightly more limited degree through Freeport.

The Out Islands are served mainly by Bahamas Air via connections in Nassau and Freeport.

The Bahamas is also a major destination for the cruise ship industry

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