Wednesday, June 20, 2012

me and whelks

Baby periwinkles and relatively larger juvenile whelks (Cittarium pica) cling to the golden surface of a tidal pool rock. Stunning colors, textures, and patterns in this excellent photograph [click image to enlarge it].

While no longer a part of my generation's island diet, whelks were certainly one of the 'dietary protein solutions' of my parents' island upbringing [examples of the adult sea snails are pictured above]. As a young kid, I recall my paternal grandmother once preparing this dish for us grandkids and being all excited about it. "We're going to have whelks for lunch today, children! Weeee!" I was genuinely looking forward to the new culinary adventure until she placed the whelks-and-rice platter in front of me. I clearly remember my WTF? moment immediately followed by the chilling realization that I was trapped -- there was no escaping this one! I have vivid memories of gagging at every swallow, and doing everything I could to not projectile vomit all over her dining room table. Ingesting the sea snails was like eating the slimy, ultra-concentrated scent/essence/aroma of the ocean. Not an easy task for a "Corn Flakes eating," well-nourished, late 20th century kid. Thank goodness that was my one and only encounter with consuming whelks. Quite enough for one lifetime. Then again, being able to get those slippery, weirdly-colored, stomach-churning sea snail entrails down my esophagus and sorta securely into my stomach was probably a 'rite of passage' that made me a true Bay Islander. At least that sounds culturally chivalrous! I am an authentic, blue-blooded, whelks-eating Roatanian, beyotches! ...And it's something I can thank my Grannie for...

Top photo: Sam and Cheryl

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