Want to make a guess where I was last weekend?

There was a wedding on a sandy beach, azure waters and blazing heat. There was also a lot of fruit drinks and saltwater snails to eat. Snails with meaty flesh and pink shells by the name of conch.

Got it? No? Ok ok….

I was in the beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands in the West Indies for Katy’s lovely albeit steaming hot outdoor wedding where Katy ended up dancing in the swimming pool in full wedding regalia.

After the celebrations, I then turned my attentions towards conch eating. In an island where 90%+ of foodstuffs are imported, conch is perhaps the only export Turks and Caicos boast of having. In fact, there is so much conch on the island that there is a commercial farm on the island of Provo (population 22,500), and an annual festival regaling the wonders of the chewy, crunchy, shellfish-like meat.

conch salad

conch salad

Of all the dishes I tried, conch salad was probably my and the other girls’ favorites. The chewy and mild meat, when served on a pretty half conch shell, tossed with spicy jalapeno, shredded vegetables and tangy lemon made a a very refreshing appetizer and entree, especially in 90+ degrees.

conch fritter

conch fritter

Conch’s pretty tasty fried too as I found out, whether mixed into a tasty cayenne spiced batter (albeit too heavy on the batter)…

curried conch

curried conch

or pounded flat, crusted and fried like schnitzel cutlets, sitting in aromatic pools of mild curry sauce.

conch crepes

conch crepes

While the previous conch dishes had a tropical sensibility about them, cream smothered conch crepe – the 2007 conch festival winner – was definitely continental in nature. Mushrooms and red pepper coulis added earthiness, while fresh green scallions saved the dish from being overly heavy. Conch was also served in a rich creamy chowder flavored with bacon at the wedding, giving the New England clam chowder a run for its money.

In case one was wondering what else I ate, the answer is not much. Being carless on the island made us instantly captive on the resorts, where we were subjected to better than average but still institution hotel food. When my other options are hamburgers and such, I choose conch. Suffice to say, I  was all conched out!

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