Live Seafood at Our Doorstep - Part 5

June 2009

The celphone vibrated defiantly in my back pocket, startling me out of my reverie.

It was the man who parts the waters, to find me the best live seafood. I believe that his name is not just a coincidence.

"Oi, Moses. What do you have for me today?"

"Buzinas," he crackled over the fading signal. "Big ones, and they're azzlzzzttzzlnnnzzzttt...." the line faded out for a moment, allowing the word to sink in.

"Car... horns...?" I whispered to myself...

tchlopp... tchlopp... tchlopp...

"What's that tchlopping sound I hear in the background?" I asked.

"That's Edmilson, removing the animal, without damaging the car-horn," Moses replied.

I wrinkled my forehead in exasperated curiosity, and whispered to myself what sounded like code speak between two secret agents, "Edmilson doesn't want to damage the 'car-horns'... while removing an animal..."

I was tempted to reply back in my own code speak, "The chair is against the wall, while the fork is in the wineglass."

Rather than troubling Moses to expound upon the anatomical challenges of extricating a live animal out of a car-horn (without damaging it), I mutely hung up the phone and got in the car.

Edmilson. Brazil is famous for creative names for people, by extracting syllables from various surnames of esteemed American notables, and mashing them together to create new ones. But one example, a very common one, in fact, is Edmilson - a hybrid of 'Edison,' 'Madison', and 'Wilson'. Pronounced, 'edgie-MEEYOO-son.' I'll soon include a separate posting that goes more in-depth about this interesting anthropoagglutinonomenclatural phenomenon.

I arrived shortly thereafter, and found Moses in front of several piles of various, delicious-looking kitchen candidates. "Must... focus... Don't... buy everything....," I steeled myself, and smiled furtively at Moses.

"Where's Edmilson?" I asked, now overcome with curiosity about this 'car-horn.'

"On the beach," Moses pointed with his chin.

Breathing through my mouth to avoid the fetid stench of rotten sea-life, rising from the sands in rippling convection waves, I found Edmilson standing behind some large objects at his feet.

"Good bordeague, Edbilsod," I spoke SOLELY through my mouth. "How's it goigue? I wadt to kdow what these car-hords are."

He gestured to his feet, "You're lookigue at theb."

Car-horns. It turns out it's the great Atlantic Helmet Conch. Enormous shells, with delicious, sweet, tender meat inside.

I nodded my head at Edmilson, and he got to work, slamming the conch shells, top-down on the sand. After about ten tchlopps, he was able to pull out the still-squirming animal.

Relieved to breathe through my nose again, I raced home, reciting ingredients like a sacred mantra - a long-held family recipe that still haunts me, bringing back memories of a 1976 boating trip through the shallow waters of Green Turtle Cay and Walker's Cay:

Bahamian Conch Fritters.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground allspice (pimenta da jamaica)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated ground nutmeg (noz moscada)
One 12 ounce bottle of beer
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup conch
3 inches of vegetable oil
limes for garnish & flavor

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Mix in a large bowl the first eight items.

Add and stir until blended:
One 12 ounce bottle of beer
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Then, stir in:
1 cup minced conch

Heat 3 inches of vegetable oil

Spoon about 1/4 cup of batter for each fritter.
Fry 2-3 min. until lightly browned.
Serve with lime wedges and hot red pepper sauce.