Bahamas

As you'd expect in an island nation, seafood is very popular. The national dish is conch pronounced "conk" with a hard K, a type of mollusc, served deep-fried "cracked" or raw with a twist of lemon, and as elsewhere in the Caribbean, the classic accompaniment is peas and rice. Cracked conch looks like and tastes a little like fried calamari, but conch meat is tougher than squid and has a stronger flavour.

Like most islands in the region, the Bahamas is unable to grow the majority of fresh fruits and vegetables and lacks ranching capability to grow chicken or cattle on an industrial scale. As a result, all those items must be imported from the mainland, either via air cargo or in refrigerated container units. Expect any dish based primarily on such imported items as opposed to local items like conch to cost at least as twice as much as its mainland counterpart or even higher.

Ordinary meals can be purchased for anywhere from $5-25 a plate. Authentic island food can be found at the Fish Fry, a collection of small open-air restaurants where many locals hang out. Meals can be had for about $8. Sunday night the locals flock to this area for some authentic Bahamian nightlife. You can find fast-food chains such as KFC or McDonald's, especially in the downtown areas, but because the Bahamas is a heavily tourism-oriented country, you can find many nice restaurants serving many different cuisines. Most restaurants serve American or British food, though you can easily find the normal island flair, especially during the Fish Fry during June. A 15% service charge is automatically added to the bill at most establishments; additional tips are optional.

Service is distinct from the American standard. There is a concentration on the customer at hand. You are expected to patiently wait your turn. At fast food restaurants the server will take care of only the first customer until they have left the service area. Don't expect to be in a hurry even at a fast food establishment.

Service in the Bahamas takes place at a relaxed pace. Travellers can expect a leisurely pace to their meal. Expect polite, if slow, service at most establishments.