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Saturday, 5 November 2011

snails for tea?

Do you like eating snails? Certainly not something I do every day, in fact I think that I’ve only ever eaten them twice in my life, both times in the French Living restaurant in Nottingham. Rick Stein featured them at an Escargotlade (snail festival in France) in his French Odyssey series and also in the recent one about Spanish cuisine. The snail festival looked good fun actually. When I had them at French Living, the person I was having the meal with reminded me (just as I was about to pop at portion in my mouth) that the oil and garlic liquor was red hot! I could easily have got a burnt mouth.

When I’ve been abroad I have seen the snails sold in tins and the two varieties of snails most commonly found on menus and in their stores are the escargots de Bourgogne  and the petit gris. The petit gris are about one third the size of the escargots de Bourgogne. I have also occasionally seen the achatine variety in markets. This is a tropical variety from Africa and Asia that can grow to half a kilo in size, but is sold in France at the same size as the escargots de Bourgogne, which are normally described as gros (large) or extra gros (extra large).

As I mentioned, snails are commonly sold canned. Small cans, 200 grams gross weight, will contain either 4 dozen small, 3 dozen medium, or 2 dozen large snails. The next size up is three times larger and contains a proportionate number of snails. Canned snails are cooked in a court-bouillion prior to canning and some of the cooking liquid is packed along with the snails. The cooking liquid may be as simple as water, salt, and spices, or it may also contain some vegetable matter. Before use, the snails should be thoroughly drained and then rinsed under flowing water. The canning liquid is either discarded or reserved, depending on the recipe. If the recipe calls for small snails and all you have is large ones, the snails can be cut in half without affecting the finished recipe.


Jean said...

Not for me, thanks.

I have eaten them once, on advice from a friend who said they only taste of garlic butter, like garlic mushrooms and there is no snailish flavour. He was right, in which case I decided I might just as well eat garlic mushrooms instead.

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

I adore snails.. i've not had them for ages but if ever i see them on a menu I do try them... love all that garlic!

Gailsman said...

Ugh, not thanks. Snails are best left to birds and frogs (not slag for the French) to eat, as they can do a fair bit of damage in the garden. Think hedgehogs can eat them too. This is most environmentally friendly way of getting rid of them. The second is of course letting them drown in a cup of old beer.

MorningAJ said...

Only tried them once. I thought they tasted like they crawled up the garden! They aren't for me.

Dean said...

Frogs legs yes (very tasty) but have not tried snails, I wonder if they would trip my shellfish allergy ? Probably only if I eat the shell ;)

Im quite jealous as my son is going to France in December with school so maybe he will get to try them...Should I smuggle myself into one of his bags ?

Karen said...

I've eaten frog legs (delicious, but I won't eat them again, as I worry how they are looked after & killed), but snails have never tempted me. I imagine them being chewy, and agree with Joan's comments. I'll leave them in the garden as hedgehogs snacks.