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I am always pleasantly surprised that I discover Bulgarians everywhere I go! Who would think that the lady receptionist at our hotel in Nassau is a Bulgarian!
I never fail to recognize the Balkan accent, even if the person’s English is perfect. There is also something about the structure of the cheekbones, the skin complexion and the emanation of the face; something that I can never describe, but that infallibly speaks “Bulgarian”!
Our receptionist has lived in the Bahamas for fifteen years. Eva and I thought she must have fled the communist regime over twenty years ago. She told us that there used to a big group of Bulgarians in the Bahamas, but few of them were able to earn permanent working documents, and most left.
She was kind and helpful to us as I think every Bulgarian should be to her fellow countrymen, at home or abroad. Finally, she showed us a picture of her child, a young mulatto girl, and we understood why she stayed in the Bahamas for so long.
Instead of a marlin (a type of tuna) and a flamingo, the Bahamian coat of arms should depict a bottle of rum and a conch! Both seem to have a special role in the Bahamian culture.
The signature dish of the Bahamas is conch fritters, which to me sounded both promising and disappointing. I was hoping that a Caribbean island would have better choice of seafood dishes, but about all they had was fried conch and fried grouper (sigh!). Conch tastes similar to clam and mussels, chewy and bland. A variation of the dish is conch salad, which Bahamians claim is an Aphrodisiac.
Aside from the gourmet cuisine, conch is also highly valued for the properties of its large pink shell. Bahamian craftsmen make statues and jewelry out of it. Street vendors sell beautiful conches as souvenirs.
Rum is the other trademark of the Caribbean. Bahamians drink it straight, put it in cocktails, and even in cakes. The rum cake is a must-try, especially with banana or coconut flavor. From the drinks, anything with rum is good – piña colada and especially bahama mama.
Señor Frogs seemed like the most popular place for American tourists in Nassau, although any bar can serve you delicious cocktails. A good place to eat and experience the local culture is the Fish Fry, a street with small restaurants that offer everything from jerk chicken to piña colada prepared in a traditional way.
Read more about the Bahamian culture in my post on “Bahama Papas and Bahama Mamas”