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A Much-Needed Revisit to the Bahamas
By Dave DeWitt
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It was quick but filling, my revisit to two of my favorite Bahamian islands, and it had only taken me 38 years! Oh well, too many hot and spicy places to visit around the world, and too little time.
In January, 2010, Mary Jane and I were on the third Spice of Life Cruise and Seminar at Sea, and there was some business aboard—namely, a State of the Fiery Foods Industry Seminar, but we also explored the culinary delights of the two islands.
First Day: Freeport with Lorenzo
The Reverend Lorenzo Walker, a veteran guide on Grand Bahama (the longest Bahamian island, 110 miles long and 17 miles wide), quickly knew what would get us going: beer. So our first stop was to visit the hopheads at the Bahamian Brewery and Beverages. I tried the Sands Beer (not named for the beach substance but rather for the owner, Jimmy Sands). My favorite of their brews was Strong Back Stout, which was as good as any stout I’ve ever tasted.
As if we couldn't get enough alcohol, the next stop was a rum tasting at a very well-stocked liquor store, where flavored rums were featured I tried coconut rum, banana rum, and pineapple rum before choosing the incredible mango rum, the Ole Nassau brand, and of course I had to buy a bottle.
Food was next at the Fruit Vendors Market, where the Reverend Walker introduced us to Barbara Bush, the Conch Queen. Well, that's what she calls herself, and her real name is Barbara Walker, and if she is a relative of Lorenzo's, this was not explained to us. Conch was the food item of the day, and the National Food of the Bahamas, where the natives are called—just like in Key West, “Conchs.” With raw conch fresh from the shell, Barbara made us Conch Salad, which is the Bahamas answer to ceviche.
More beers were on order at the Gullywash Club, famous for its outdoor Wednesday night fish fry and for its xxx-rated tropical cocktails. I never imagined that someone would have the nerve to name a drink “Sperm Bank,” but the owner of the Gullywash did. I asked him where he got the recipe names, and he confessed that he stole them from a book of 1001 drink recipes. The Bahamians are renowned for their sense of humor, and I must admit that I spent most of that part of the cruise laughing.
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