Slippery little suckers
Escargots de Bourgogne is the fancy French name for what is essentially snails doused in garlic butter… sounds appetising doesn’t it?
I can just see the grimace stretch across your face… I had the exact same reaction at the thought of sucking out these slimy slugs from their shells.
It’s not that I can’t appreciate that different cultures come with different taste buds- but I couldn’t understand why this dish gets flogged as something quintessentially French, when just about every French person I spoke to said they avoided snails at all costs.
Maybe it’s to do with the generation I was speaking to? Perhaps snails are just an taste for tongues of the past? Either way, after having lived in Paris for close to a year I had managed to escape the dish.
A few weeks before I was due to head back to Sydney I popped into my local Franprix supermarket to do some food shopping: cereal, rice, some eggs, milk, then the freezer section.
Tucked between the frozen peas and fish, in a little tin foil dish wrapped in glad wrap, were eight frozen snails stuffed with some sort of green substance.
Gazing into the freezer for some time I thought: “I really can’t go home and say I lived in Paris for a year and never ate a snail. It will be the first thing people will ask me!” I decided it was about time I sucked up my first slug. Hesitating and taking a deep breath, I finally opened the door and rapidly shoved the foil dish into my red shopping basket next to a jar of Nutella.
Arriving home I packed away my shopping, putting the tray of snails into my own freezer. “No need to rush to eat them tonight,” I thought. I still had a couple of weeks left after all.
Needless to say the snails stayed frozen until the last possible moment. A few days before my flight, with little else left to eat in the fridge, I had no choice. Eat the snails or starve.
Unraveling the glad wrap I put the foil tray into the oven and waited patiently.
Wafts of melting garlic butter and parsley (the mysterious green substance) drifted out from the warm glow and they definitely smelt good enough. But how did they taste?
‘Serve hot’ the directions said, and not really wanting to find out what a lukewarm snail tasted like, I shut my eyes, poked my fork into the shell and flung the contents into my mouth…
To be honest I swallowed it whole so I can’t describe to much what the actual snail was like. Not to mention it was so heavily doused in garlic butter that even if I had chewed, I probably wouldn’t have tasted anything else anyway.
Either way, I wasn’t a fan.
Granted, I had bought frozen snails- not exactly the best on the market I imagine, but still. The fantastically yummy garlic parsley butter didn’t make up for the fact that you were eating a snail. A black, oven-roasted, slug.
I ended up ditching the other seven snails. I’d done my bit trying one.
After brushing my teeth to get rid of the garlic smell, I put on coat and headed out in search of a much more preferable French specialty for dessert- a Nutella and dessicated coconut crêpe.