snails

Two things I did this evening I’d never done before:

1. Texted answers to a friend of mine taking part in a pub quiz with George Best.

2. Collected snails from another friend’s garden in preparation for a snail risotto I’m planning on cooking up next week. Normally I’d simply order them online, but Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall informs me that the common garden variety is perfectly acceptable, as long as they’re purged of any impurities first. This is done by feeding them lettuce or carrot for four or fives days, then starving the little fellows for 48 hours prior to execution.

This is already proving to be a harrowing experience, knowing that in just under a week’s time I’m going to have to turn my kitchen into a snail abattoir. They’re beautiful, elegant creatures, but I figure if I’m going to eat meat then I should at least be prepared to face the grim reality of the slaughterhouse floor.

It’s not going to be easy.

26 Comments

  1. My french friend collects garden snails in a bucket and feeds them nice greens for a few days. I always thought he was just so very french, but I hear that many brits do it as well.

    I can understand your anxiety. I can’t imagine how you would execute and de-shell the little ones, but I look forward to finding out.
    My mother put beer in little pots beside her prized plants and she told me that the snails and slugs would die happy that way – which i didn’t quite believe but preferred it to my gran’s method of pouring salt on them and laughing as they shriveled up into a cashew nut shaped carcass.

    Well I tried frogs legs in a tapas bar in spain this weekend, and snails are next on my list.

  2. Whatever happened to good, simple “normal” toast and peanut butter?!

  3. Haha. Very nice, but I don’t want to tenderize my snailmeat that much.

  4. What’s normal about peanut butter ? A foul and frankly bizarre concoction.

  5. Jane Grigson recommends feeding them on herbs (rosemary/thyme etc) for best flavour

  6. Many years ago, when I was still a fellow carnivore, I had a snail pizza. This was actually quite a good way to sample snail. I imagine most people’s objection to eating snail is it’s essential snailishness. But by the time it has been de-shelled and oven cooked on a flat disk of bread covered with cheese, it just looks like a lump of meat and not particularly snail-like at all.

    • WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CRACKING OPEN THE DELICATE SHELLS OF DEFENCESLESS SNAILS THEN FRYING THEM IN BUTTER AND EATING THEM!!!!!!!!!! UR ALL PHYCOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Just remember that’s not really screaming you can hear when you pop ‘em in to cook!

    RPster

  8. Not sure I could bring myself to eat snails. I might have done as a kid, but oddly I’ve become more squeamish in that respect as I’ve got older rather than less. I once at a whole baby octopus; not so sure I’d like to now, even though I enjoyed it at the time.

    (Obviously, it was cooked and had had its beak removed…)

  9. nevermind peanut butter (which is frankly about as wrong as snails…), why in gods name can’t you just use a nice normal chickeny chicken?

  10. I do a rather nice herb & butter roast chicken quite regularly, but it’s not a crowd-pleaser in terms of blog content.

    I hate peanut butter too.

  11. will you be slow cooking them?

  12. Get ‘em Fraser. They killed my chili plant.

  13. Fraser, (i posted something similar to this last night – but it was witty, charming, and made me oh-so-much better looking – sadly it got eaten by the postman).

    I’m glad you found a better source of snails than my garden – I am so sorry. After boasting of the massively high snail population round here, getting rid of the slug pellets and welcoming snails into the neighbourhood with open arms, word seems to’ve got out. I think they know they’re destined for the pot, and aren’t that thrilled with whole situation.

    All i have in the garden at the moment are some rather splendid geraniums, a few (now bedraggled) trailing lobelias and a hollyhock. The hollyhock has taken 2 years before it bothered flowering and I did grow it from seed, so it’s more impressive than it sounds, but its no first course. Its not even a proper starter.
    The only sound you can hear is the distant murmur of snails shouting ‘TAXI!’

    If your alternative snails are a huge taste sensation and you need more in the future, let me know. As soon as these plants snuff it and I purposefully get some more, and go to the trouble of planting them, the snails will be back like a shot. With knives and forks no doubt, as bloody usual.

  14. Interersting PDF. The table(3) matching probable chemicals to familar smells is great. I’ll avoid foods high in Butanoic acid from now on (a “feacal scent” apparently found in rancid butter, parmesan cheese, or vomit).

    There was a sign up in pret at one point saying “sorry if our milk isn’t as frothy as you may be used to, but our cows eat a natural diet and sometimes the milk may not be frothy.
    It turns out that cases of non frothy milk (flat cappuccinos) occured at the same time every year as the cows moved from a grass to a silage diet. The bubbles in the milk came back after a while. But a solution was found in a gradual, staggered switch from the summer to winter diet. It was less of a shock to the cows system and allowed all year round frothy milk.

    Perhaps randomly switching a feed for a few weeks is not a good scientific experiment.

    Milk is synthesised in the mammary glad in the udder. It takes a large blood supply and uses amino acids and glucose in the blood to synthesise milk fat and lactose sugar. It seems that you may be able to alter the sweetness of cows milk by varying the blood sugar levels. (imagine a cow fed on sherbert dips!).
    Also, since mineral compounds of milk are fundamental to the calf’s development. The udder “chooses” to let certain chemicals and antibodies to flow from the blood through a cell boundary.

    So, blood certainly seems to carry plenty of stuff from our diet, but it may be that the cells that lay down mussle and fat are a bit more fussy about what goes into them than the milk.
    This is facinating, I shall have to investigate further!

  15. Strange how no one’s been at all interested about your mate taking part in a pub quiz with George Best.

    Did they win it?

  16. No idea – didn’t ask.

  17. Snails are great though. Look at their little eyes! On Little stalks!
    Watch them retract into their little shells!

  18. SLOW cooking…snails…geddit?!

  19. Ha. Not until now. D’oh.

  20. you were quite slow in getting that joke ;-)

  21. Corn fed chickens/game birds certainly take on a pleasent yellow colour and nice flavour.

    We were taught at college that if you fed chickens on fishmeal you would taste fish in their eggs, I havn’t tried this though.

  22. Snails
    28-7-5

    Sir,
    I have done this.

    It’ll end in tears…

    Some years ago

    my evil sexy monobrow French teacher loup;
    Francois (funnily enough)
    told me that garden snails were fine
    and that garden snails were fine
    and that eating snails found climbing on the fence in the garden
    was fine
    and that eating snails found climbing on the on the footpathh
    was fine
    and told me the recipe.

    I wasn\’t afraid of anything those days

    and besides

    he was trying to fuck my girlfriend.

    SO we gathered snails
    put them in an esky
    with loads of flour
    and left them for three days –
    one extra –
    just to be sure.

    ON THE THIRD DAY

    we removed the snails,
    murdered them
    by removing their shells
    and guts

    by hand

    and boiled them
    a little.

    We were dry wretching
    from the thought

    and the stench

    that afternoon.

    NEVER to be defeated
    we invited a friend ’round
    and cooked some kinda bolognese – (that’s Italian, ‘Tish…)
    garlic tomato SNAILS.

    He loved it!

    I had to prove it wasn\’t poison;
    ate a tiny bit
    and lost all the “courage” I had accumulated that day.

    Pasta was well cooked though…

    It has been ten years;

    I no longer do ‘escgargot.’

  23. Just back from the Charente where the markets were crawling (?) with cagouillles. Most restaurants we visited seemed to have a snail dish on the menu as well. We turned down the opportunities presented to us, prefering to wait until Heston feeds them to us…

  24. well im trying it,they are all well feed an healthy, couple of days an they will be ready

  25. Get a grip, how can some of you defend the poor snail when I am sure you would eat other “poor defencelss animals”

    Survival, eat what you feel floats you boat so as long as you dont kill the species off in its entirity

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