Multi-purpose mollusk. Over the centuries, Caribbean islanders have played tunes on the conch, drunk from it, made tools from it, adorned homes with it, used it as a primitive form of money, and--best of all--eaten it. "There is no doubt that since time immemorial, man has been breaking open conch shells in order to get at the succulent flesh inside," according to Culinaria, A Culinary Discovery: The Caribbean
. The meat of this sea snail is tough and needs tenderizing with lime or by pounding before cooking. Its taste has been compared to clams and scallops. Conch, which propels itself along the ocean floor with its foot-like muscle, is used to make stews, chowders, and fritters. In the 17th century, the beautiful spiraled pink shell of the Queen Conch was prized in Europe. Today, entire conch orchestras make beautiful music in Key West at the island's annual Conch Blowing Contest.