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A Redneck Vacation


Paul Richardson

Back in my younger, carefree, let ‘er rip days, it was my custom to spend the Holiday’s in the Caribbean, a different island each year. One of the favorite local island delicacies is Conch Fritters, a bite size morsel that looks like a golden brown hushpuppy and tastes like a trash dump smells.

If you are not sure what a Conch is, think of those beautiful sea shells in the souvenir shops that you hold up to your ear to hear the ocean. That’s a Conch shell with the critter removed. (Careful how you pronounce it, otherwise you might be embarrassed.)

They are easy to catch, since they creep along the ocean bottom and can be picked up by hand. Inside is one big glob of meat with a huge claw on one end, something like Captain Hook’s hand. The animal is removed from its shell, the claw whacked off, and what’s left is diced up to eat, everything that’s left, from the rooter to the tooter and all in between. (And you thought Sardines were nasty.)

Take about half a gallon of minced Conch meat, mix with flour, meal, diced onions, five or six eggs, and half of a large bottle of Tabasco sauce, then deep fry in little round balls.

The cook said “Very good. You like. You see.”

And they did look good. But let me say now, do not be fooled. With the first bite, my insides lit up like a California wild fire, from belly button to eye balls. Sweat poured of my forehead as tears streamed down my face. I wanted to scream but I could not speak. After a while, when the fire subsided and my ear stopped smoking, the real taste kicked in. Three day old road kill could not have tasted worse.

So the cook said “You no like so me fix Conch salad instead. You like. You see.”

Believe it or not, salad is even worse. Take a large bowl of raw, diced Conch, add a diced bell pepper and large onion, the other half bottle of Tabasco, enough salt to cure a ham, a pinch of black pepper, and the juice from a dozen Limes picked from a tree outside, along with any secret herbs and spices. Mix thoroughly and chill for two hours before serving. They believe the lime juice cooks the meat. They could not me more misinformed.

One bite and I was sure a buzzard would gag. After three bites, I resigned to the fact I had acted really dumb. After dining on Conch Salad, do not plan of sleeping that night, unless you can do it while perched upon the porcelain throne. Montezuma’s Revenge can’t compare to this and Pepto Bismol in gallon bottles doesn’t touch it.

By midnight, with a roll of Charmin in each hand and a couple of spare rolls under one arm, you will be screaming profanities and asking “Please God, why did you let me do this?”

Later in the wee hours of the morning, when you realize God had nothing to do with your misfortune, you stop cussing and start praying. But not praying for relief, you will be praying to die. Trust me, it is that bad.

By afternoon, some hope may prevail depending on how much is ingested. By sundown it might be possible to reach the bed for some long awaited sleep, if you’re lucky. Along the way, you will realize that your legs are not quite right and you may never Buck Dance or do the Boogie Two Step again.

After two days of a constant California mud slide, hope prevails. Once this ordeal is finally over, the opposite effect set sin. There will be no other “bathroom business” to take care of for quite a while so put away the Charmin.

This is firsthand experience folks. If you intend to vacation in the Islands, choose cautiously from the official menu. Spare yourself the agony, pain, and the embarrassment of dumb decesions. You’ll thank me later. If you’re looking for a new and exciting adventure, try playing with a hand grenade or take up snake handling.
(Opinions are the Authors and not necessarily endorsed by this publication.)