Monday, February 4, 2008

Snails a.k.a. Escargots

As mentioned before, it was my dd that wanted to try snails. She actually wanted to try one of the canned giant snails for $13...and that is the price for one - only one per can. I did not think I could attempt to eat a snail that size - but the price of course made it out of the question anyway. This size can - that contained about 2 dozen snails, cost something like $3.69.

We began by boiling water. I misread the instructions. The can said to "clean the shells in boiling water", but we did not have any shells and the snails arrived sans shell (thought the occasion called for showing off my vast knowledge of French, having grown up in a bi-lingual country and being forced to study French for a number of years). So, believing that a little boiling water never hurt anything, I threw the snails in "to be safe" and boiled the little fellas for a couple of minutes.

When dd realized they were generally served in shells - she ran off to begin crafting some out of paper. She really is quite inventive in that regard. She could probably craft me up a new car out of a few large boxes! She isn't so concerned with exact details or coloring something nicely - she just has an idea in her head of what she wants to make and does it super fast.

So by the time we were ready to serve the snails - all 3 of us had little paper shells - held together with tape. Clever.

After boiling the snails, following the instructions on the can, I made a sauce of melted butter, garlic, salt/pepper and parsley. I mixed it all together. Lacking any kind of proper "escargots dishes" - I just got out my mini muffin tin - perfect size. In each little slot I placed some of the sauce - then a snail, then topped it with a little more sauce. I was to cook it until the sauce began bubbling.

And now - the time for the tasting. I bravely let my dd taste it before I popped mine in my mouth. Her reaction? She loved them! "...Not much flavor,'s delicious!" The boy, not feeling so brave about tasting something slug like, took a very small bite and said "It doesn't really taste good." With some convincing though - he did eat the whole snail to get a proper taste of it. He didn't ask for seconds. Meanwhile the girl is finishing one and grabbing another...and another. She ate about 1/2 of them. She also thought they tasted like sardines.

I liked them. It's hard to overcome the psychological gastronomical hurdle of knowing what this little critter looked like before it was plopped into the can marked "Escargots". I didn't like seeing what they looked when you pull them apart with a fork...the stretchy-ness of it. If I had seen a "before" picture right before I ate them...I don't think I could attempt it. Just looking at a picture of a live one now - fully stretched out, very much resembling the slug, which I've always been a little creeped out about. The flavor was not very distinguishable beneath the sauce - I'd say they kind of tasted like butter and garlic, with a "hint" (as ds would say) of parsley. When they came out of the can, they felt a bit rubbery - but they were not slimy at all.

Isn't a snail just a slug without a shell, or shall we say without the comforts of an RV?

OK I just read this on Wikipedia, "Because snails eat soil, decayed matter, and a wide variety of leaves, the contents of their stomachs can be toxic to humans. Therefore, before they can be cooked, the snails must first be prepared by purging them of the contents of their digestive system. The process used to accomplish this varies, but generally involves a combination of fasting and purging. The methods most often used can take several days."

These visuals and what I just read in Wikipedia, are just things I will need to not think upon, should I one day have the opportunity to try the little fellas once again.


Jennifer said...

Hmmm... I love escargot! I've never even tried to make them at home though. They are fun to eat and I like mine with a crispy bread crumb topping.