On one of her many adventures scratching around our overgrown mucky backyard, Bubby came across a snail. Nothing special, just your average brown slimy garden variety. I don’t recall why, but this snail sparked Dave into telling Bubby that she had eaten snails as a baby in Paris. She looked as though she didn’t believe him. Snails aren’t for eating.
But since that day Bubby has been talking about eating snails, parroting that she ate them when she was a baby in Paris. I wondered if she would like them as much as she had then, or if the concept of eating a creepy creature from the garden might override her curious nature. So I asked her if she wanted to have snails for lunch. “Yes” she said, “like when I was a baby”. We baked some bread while Boo had her morning sleep. I’m a fan of Jamie Oliver’s Basic Bread, but for the sake of keeping my hands mess-free I tend to stick with the one that comes in the Thermomix book. A quick ring around to check which shop had snails in stock resulted in loud sobs from Bubby as she overheard the first shop were out of snails. I grabbed my shopping basket on the way out of the house and Bubby her mini basket she had packed with a few necessities for the trip (a cardboard roll, her Alice mouse and a bib for Boo). And she added a stick she found on the pavement as we got out of the car. She’s a collector at heart.
Bubby looked a bit confused when I handed her a small tin can in the shopping aisle instead of a handful of crawling snails, but then spent the rest of the time looking at fellow shoppers through her cardboard tube and bumping into things because she was too busy spying on people instead of looking where she was going.
Back at the house we opened up the can and she peered in. “Where are their shells?” was all she asked. Not a peep on how disgusting they looked all blackish brown and wrinkly, or their faint might-be-off odour. Escargots à l’ail Ingredients 1 can of approx. 24 snails 2Tbs chopped butter 1 large finely chopped clove of garlic 1Tbs finely chopped flat leaf parsley Salt and pepper Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Empty the can into a waiting ramekin large enough to fit all the ingreadients. I’m going to admit that I can’t finely chop to save myself, so feel free to roughly chop, it really does taste the same. Sprinkle the snails with the garlic, parsley and butter. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes ’til the butter is melted and bubbling away. They’ll still look a bit unappetising and even I get squeamish about how they look despite how fancy ‘escargot’ sounds. But I do find the simple, buttery garlicy-ness of this recipe is perfect for their melt in your mouth texture and subtle taste.
Too hot straight out of the oven, Bubby and Boo dug into some bread while we waited for them to cool down then Bubby tentatively took a little bite of one. ‘Mmm’ was all she murmured. Then some more bread. Pretty sure she didn’t really like them, but she didn’t let on and finished two big snails and a whole lot of bread. Her determination reminds me of the first time I ate an oyster fresh off the rocks. It was too massive to swallow in one go so I was forced to chew this warm muscular bit of slime and I too, keen to look sophisticated swallowed it and smiled. Have since learnt to make sure they haven’t been sitting in the stinking hot sun all day before eating… At least I enjoyed finishing off the rest of the snails, dipping the bread into that delicious garlic butter! When asked if she likes snails Bubby still says yes, but strangely enough hasn’t asked for them again…