Eating snails in France – the art of avoidance

This post was written by admin on January 6, 2009
Posted Under: Daily Paris

Eventually one has to get to the topic of why the French eat snails. I have to confess I don’t actually know the reason why a little garden dwelling gastropod now rises to the status of becoming gratifying gastronomic grub. The Romans used to eat them and if I had to guess I imagine during hard times the French yokels (not intended as a derogatory term) required them to supplement their diet and get some much needed protein.

Gav, you’re in France, you’ve got to try them! Even my ex-Aussie boyfriend gave them a nibble”, I’m told, my contortioned face rolled up into a ball of disgust. All I could mumble was, “Well, obviously he’s a better man than I”, but then another argument presented itself to me; sorry two arguments. Actually now I stop to think about it there is a third argument because Mme. Grenouille is a vegetarian who happens to love snails (living snails that is) so shouldn’t have been trying to force escargot onto me in the first place! It had also been explained to me that snails by themselves have no real taste and it is the garlic buttery sauce that gives them their flavour. Surely that in itself is reason enough? My third argument simply demanded “Why not slugs?” They’re longer, surely just as high in protein and you don’t have to mess about with the shell! Mme. Grenouille face turned a little downward at the corners with this suggestion.

A couple of years ago I was at Mme. Grenouille’s 88 year old grandmothers in the countryside, and spied some very large snail shell shaped ceramic. I hardly dared ask what they were for, but yes they were a receptacle for holding lots of cooked snails. You do see snails on most Paris restaurant menus, or if you pop into the local Picard (a frozen food store) they have great big bags of icy snails sitting alongside crêpes and the like. If you are partial to new culinary and cultural pursuits I must recommend you don’t pick your own and eat them raw for fear of meningitis (See this news story, Warning: Don’t eat slugs)

This Christmas just gone, Mme. Grenouille’s mother bought me something I can stomach – chocolate truffle escargots! Looking at the bottom of the box these are actually made by Nestle.

chocolate snails, escargot, france

If you’re coming here for holidays be sure to wrap up warm and do remember keywords such as l’escargot or cuisses de grenouille (frog’s legs). If you watch this YouTube video (Maïté et l’anguille) and you’re a hypocritical meat-eater (such as myself) with a weak stomach then do not hit the play button. With that said the chef, Marie-Thérèse Ordonez, does scare me just a little bit more than the eels themselves. You may wish to add l’anguille (eel) to your vocab list.

If my posts have been a little lacking of late it is because I took a sojourn to the UK over Christmas and the New Year. I flew back from Birmingham on the 3rd January (a 6:25am flight) with temperatures down to -8C! Back in Paris it was -4C, and yesterday (6th January) there was actually snow on the streets and cars. Even now looking down into the courtyard I can see some traces of it.

chocolate snails, escargot, france

Landing at Paris, Charles de Gaulle airport

Reader Comments

Uuuh, even I don’t eat snails. Well, ok, I grew up in Germany, perhaps the problem come from that fact… ;-)
But I think they taste like “moules”… if you like them.

#1 
Written By SurfAnna on January 10th, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

I’ve tried muscles just once and was nearly sick. These days I don’t eat anything with a shell! :)

#2 
Written By admin on January 11th, 2009 @ 9:31 am

I am heading over to Paris in a couple of weeks. I would love to find somehwere that has snails. There is a great French restaurant in Sydney, Australia, that does snails that have been soaking in red wine for ages and then cooked in garlic butter. I got a taste for them and wanted to try some in France where i know they would do them much better. Can you tell me anywhere i may be able to find them? Would appreciate any help i can get, Thank You, Merci.

#3 
Written By Ally B on May 9th, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

Not sure I can recommend any one particular restaurant, but you’ll find nearly all the French restaurants will offer snails – I come across it very frequently!

#4 
Written By admin on May 10th, 2009 @ 9:12 am

WHY!!?? thats nasty. imagion the slime in your mouth.
hitting the gag reflex. till you puke it all over.
STOP KILLING THE SNAILS!! Plus the frog legs are also nasty. Why would you eat frog legs? what would posess you to eat frog legs or snails??

#5 
Written By shadow on January 6th, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

:D they taste good :D

#6 
Written By M on March 25th, 2010 @ 12:04 am

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  1. Choucroute Garnie – Alsace  on March 6th, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

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