There’s a decades old story about a snail and a car dealership.
A snail walks into a car dealership and asks the salesperson to paint a large “S” on the back of the car he’s going to buy.
The salesperson asks why. The snail responds, “So when I drive down the street, people will say, ‘Hey, look at that S-car go!’”
So, on that note, I thought I would share with you a few anecdotes about eating snails– edible snails (“escargots” in France)–in France so that you really know what you are
eating getting into.
Traditional Servings Of Snails or Escargots
Usually in France and most places in the world, when you order “escargots” you get 6 or 12 snails. They have actually been taken out of their shells, cleaned (thank goodness) and cooked with garlic butter. Parsely or thyme are added and the snails are sometimes put back into their shells.
If not, they are placed in ceramic dishes or on tin trays with indents for each snail. They are served with snail forks (to pry them out) and lots of bread to soak up the garlic butter. You can make it into a meal by ordering more than 6 or 12 (I have).
One of my most memorable escargot appetizers was in Burgundy and they were served in a sauce in a ceramic dish. The dish was covered with a large topping of puff pastry. It was a very large appetizer and simply delicious.
There are other types of “escargot” that you might not be as familiar with: bulots and cargolades.
In a previous post, “Definitely An Experience Eating These Foods” I wrote about my surprise with the bulots I had in Honfleur. I wanted escargots but the waitress recommended bulots and said they were snails, like escargots. I ordered them and was disappointment to discover not only were they NOT served in garlic butter, but they were big and chewy. They were also served with garlic mayonnaise. A much different experience than the traditional “escargots”.
When visiting Collioure recently our hotel recommended we go to one of the few restaurants open in early January, “Le Jardin de Collioure”. It had paella on its menu as well as something that was new to us: cargolades.
Cargolades are a specialty of this southern area of France. Collioure is very close to the Spanish border and the dishes in the area are strongly influenced by the Catalan culture. Cargolades are escargots that are grilled in their shells on cast iron and when you order a dish, you get about 25 of them!
Once again, they were lacking the garlic butter but on the side was aioli. They were a different experience again. However I’ve decided (as you can tell from my disappointment in dishes lacking garlic butter) that I prefer the traditional escargot.