According to the site Snail World (yes, there’s a site called Snail World, go check it out) humans have consumed land snails, which are low in fat and high in water and protein, for thousands of years. Thousands of years!
I’m not squeamish about eating snails, in fact, local river snails or tekuyung are one of my favourite local dishes, especially when it’s stir fried with bamboo shoots and chilies. Delicious!
But, I’ve never tried land snails, well not until December of 2016, when I traveled to Paris with my mother, and we did what typical tourists do in the City of Lights, indulge in Parisienne cuisine. My mum was salivating at the thought of having a plate full of escargot, but me, I went “Ergh.”
We had an early lunch that day. The weather was cold (for us Malaysians used to 35 degrees Celcius weather) and windy. We entered the French bistro, across the street from our hotel, perused the menu (which was in English, thank goodness) and asked for the smallest number of escargots we could order. Barely minutes later, our order of six huge escargots arrived.
We ordered the classic preparation of escargot, served with drawn butter, garlic and other herbs. Using the snail tongs and snail fork provided, I dug in carefully into my first snail. I had watched too many movies of women holding the shell and attempting to extract the flesh out of it, only to have the entire snail fly out and hit a handsome, mysterious stranger. I secretly hoped that would happen, so that my food horror episode would turn into a chick lit. But of course, it didn’t. The powers that be was determined for me to meet the escargot, not the love of my life.
Somehow, despite it being my first time, I managed to remove the escargot from its home in one seamless move, which now perched on my snail fork. Yikes, it did not look appetising. I drenched it in more of the butter-garlic-herb mixture, popped the morsel into my mouth, and started chewing. Well, what do you know, it tasted half nice! I swallowed it and went for my second one, and my third, and my fourth. Soon enough, I’d finish most of it, saving one (the biggest) escargot for my mum.
After that culinary episode, I’m happy to report that perhaps I’d judged escargots too harshly, it’s not as inedible as I thought it would be, in fact the garlic-butter-herbs which the escargots swam in, was divine. Would I eat it again? Well, if I’m in a Paris bistro, maybe.
What snails have you tried? Did you enjoy the experience?