Feeling Sluggish: Eat a Snail

5 Feb



I ate my first one last night. It was not planned. It was unexpected. I blinked and when I opened my eyes, I saw it. It was on a fork and 3 cm from my nose. Snail…escargot… garlic…taste?” A disconnect of words. Realization hit me – in the mouth. My cousin was asking me if I wanted to taste a snail.

Yes, I contemplated acting like I was well accustomed to the French delicacy, but my palate did not presently care for it. Yes, I contemplated constructing a fictional story about how I only eat escargot when I am in France. And yes, admittedly I contemplated running away as fast as Cathy Freeman in the 200m. But my face said it all. I was a virgin to escargot. This would be my first time. I have never been to France. And no…I can not run like Cathy Freeman. My 2011 new years echoed loudly in my head. In two thousand legs eleven, I have resolved to be ‘more adventurous’. Ironically, snails do not have legs. Spontaneously, I grabbed the fork. Without hesitation, I took a deep breath and popped the snail into my mouth. The garlic was intoxicating. The parsley offered no neutralisation. The texture…well….I’d describe it to be like a mussel.

The whole experience reminded me of my Year 10 formal; slightly nauseating, with a tinge of excitement and an over-riding element of awkwardness. Nevertheless, a memorable one. Escargot – one of those words that sounds a lot fancier than what it actually embodies. For example; onomatopia (its just imitation of a sound) or crèche (an infants crib). Let’s face it, at the end of the day Escargot, no matter how much French accent you put behind it…is a dish involving snails. A garden creature (Classification of species is not a strong point of mine – Is a snail an insect? a crustaceans? anthropoda?). I couldn’t stand not knowing – yes, I just googled it. For your own reference a Snail is a common name for almost all members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have coiled shells in the adult stage. Snails can be found in a very wide range of environments including ditches, deserts, and the abyssal depths of the sea. Thanks Wiki – however you should include ‘dining plates’ in the environment sector. My intention is not to offend anyone, as an Indian, I am well aware that our traditional cuisine embraces strange-shaped vegetables that resemble offensive human body parts.

I actually applaud the innovative and adventurous spirit of the French- they successfully allowed the snail to transcend the status of a slimy uninvited mailbox lodger to an A-grade celebrity in the culinary world! Got me thinking about slugs…Do some cultures eat slugs? Are snails and slugs related? Is a slug just a homeless snail? Slugs do not hold the same air of mystery as a snail in a shell does. Are slugs too exposed? Are they just the ‘bogan’ cousin of the snail? Replacing the ‘g’ in slug with a ‘t’…a coincidence? I think not. Snails are like the Catherine Zeta Jones’s whilst slugs are like the Britney Spears’s of the mollusc world. Either way, the slug is laughing….they may be selling the ‘Big Issue’ on the driveway…they don’t end up on a plate… Next of the 2011 Menu…fois gras..stayed tuned.

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