Snails as Food

Snails as Food

Land Snails as Food, Escargots

Since prehistoric times, man all over the world consumed what they could for survival, and that sometimes included snails. In several parts of the ancient world including the Roman Empire, snails were eaten frequently. In fact, they were harvested so that there would be a huge supply of them all the time to meet the demand.

That desire to consume them hasn’t stopped there. They continue to be a huge industry for the restaurant business. Offering snails is getting usual for unusual receptions and other elaborate affairs. If you haven’t tried them, the idea may not be very appealing to you. However, you may find that your taste buds are really impressed by them.

Land snails are regularly consumed in the European cuisine. It is no secret that many people find snails to be delicious as an appetizer or as a main course. There are plenty of well known recipes out there for making them and many people do so at home. Such dishes are common in many types of fine restaurants as well.

For example in France they are very popular and they are called with the French word “Escargot”. When cooked, snails are prepared with garlic and parsley butter, added for seasoning and they are server in their own shell. They are very expensive due to the fact that they are considered a delicacy.

In Greece and Italy they are often consumed in a diversity of dishes and sometimes they are even used in sauces and poured over various types of pasta. Other countries like Spain, Portugal and Germany also consume them, where people create a variety of dishes. In the US there is huge market for Escargots where they are imported from many countries. Many of the recipes found in some restaurants are spin offs from what is cooked in the European countries.

Escargot is the common name for snails when they are to be eaten in a dish. Millions of pounds of snails are consumed around the world annually. In fact, there is even a day to celebrate it! May 24th is the National Escargot Day. Recipes like the ones below are cooked that day:

mark    Escargots Gratin

mark    Escargots in Herbed Cream

mark    Escargot a la Bourguignonne

mark    Saffron Tagliarini With Snails & Sorrel

mark    Mushroom & Escargot Soup

mark   Burgundian Escargots With Spaghetti
It is believed that snails for eating were brought to the United States (California) in the 1850’s. Either by immigrants or by consumers, but some of them escaped though and it didn’t take long for them to be all over the country.

Many people viewed them as pests which is why they don’t have any problems eating them. Instead of paying money for them, they started to harvest their own from gardens and farms. In fact, some of the farmers in California were making a nice amount of money on the side by collecting the snails and selling them on the market along with their fruits and vegetables. However, wild snails can carry deadly diseases, therefore regulations in the U.S. to sell and harvest them where established to avoid improper handling.

The most common type of snail used is the garden variety. However, if you have a garden and they are present do not try to trap them and process them yourself. This would be a great way to take care of the problem you are having with the pests harming your fruits and vegetables, but as we mentioned above, wild snails can carry a parasite that can cause meningitis.

As a note of caution it is important to mention that you need to properly cook snails before you consume them, even if they are purchased. The failure to do so can result in parasites entering the body, which have been linked to the development of meningitis. The failure to cook them properly can result in people becoming very ill. When you buy snails to cook you need to prepared them well done, so if present the parasite would be killed.

Before cooking snails, chefs put them on fasting for three days only with water and then feed them with flour and water for one week to purify them. After that, they are cooked with one of the recipes mentioned before.