Island delicacy: Conched out in the Caribbean

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I grew up with a pink and cream conch shell on the living room mantel, and would hold it to my ear to listen to the sound of surf reverberating in the shell, pure magic. Little did I know as a kid that the conch — especially in the Turks & Caicos Islands — had so much more to offer.

First, for those who might not be familiar, conch (pronounced “conk”) is a sea snail that over the years has been a culinary staple of the Turks & Caicos Islands and is served throughout the Caribbean. Conch factors so much in the local culture that a conch shell is featured on the TCI flag.

Any visitor to TCI will have ample opportunity to try conch, in a variety of preparations. If you’re looking for a snack on the run, conch fritters accompanied by a local hot sauce and a cold beer hits the spot. For something light, there’s conch ceviche (locals call it conch salad), which is fresh conch “cooked” in lime. Other easy-to-find dishes are conch chowder, stewed conch, cracked (fried) conch and curried conch.

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