The conch is a large edible sea snail noted for its colourful shell, and the queen conch shell is a symbol of the Florida Keys, sometimes jocularly known as “the Conch Republic.” Three ubiquitous dishes are taken as representative of Keys cuisine. One is Key Lime Pie, a dessert dish resembling a cheesecake, and the other two are starters: conch chowder and conch fritters. The chowder is a seafood bisque that uses finely chopped conch, and the fritters are small patties, roughly spherical, made with conch meat, onion, cayenne pepper, green pepper, celery, and garlic. They are rather like crab cakes in style, but with a distinctive and spicy flavour. I had them several times during a short stay there because they are delicious, delivering great taste without too much bulk to fill you up ahead of the main course. The trick is to order one portion to share between two people.