Eating snail and slug meat, recipes from snails and slugs. Extreme cuisine.

Since I was twelve, I have eaten some strange things and will continue to be glad to crunch fried locusts or swallow a live fish. And yet, unless I change in the most dramatic way, I can never eat slugs. Just thinking about it makes my stomach cramps. 

Thus begins one of his essays, Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher, better known by the initials M.F.K. Perhaps the best culinary writer of the 20th century in English.

Eating snail and slug meat, recipes from snails and slugs.

I tried to look at them with a sober, cold look. She continues. She tried to admire the beauty of their movements, evident when the film was scrolled faster, forced herself to read in the British Encyclopedia about the harmlessness of everything that forms their slimy bodies. All to no avail. Any mention of these creatures awakens animal horror dormant somewhere inside me. Slugs are a nightmare, this is something abnormal, I am madly afraid of them and everything connected with them. However, I love snails. Most people love snails..

In that essay, entitled Fifty Million Snails and first published in 1937, Fisher writes about how she once ate so many snails during her stay in French Dijon that she was dizzy for two days while the gastropods turned under the influence of garlic into old tires. And nothing. She still loved them, as did most Frenchmen, who, according to her, ate 50 million snails annually. Since then, consumption has grown so much that it is measured not in pieces, but in tons. Today we are talking about 35 thousand tons per year.!

Eating snail and slug meat, recipes from snails and slugs. Extreme cuisine.

Parisians alone eat 20 tons during the Christmas holidays. I also love snails, although I find it difficult to say why. Honestly, I think I would eat anything after dipping in hot butter. Even the sliced ​​rubber slippers that I wear at home in Bangkok. I don’t know whether to believe historians who claim that snails were one of the main sources of animal food for the first people. Partly in favor of this theory are evidence of piles of shells found in ancient man’s caves, as well as the fact that snails are easy to catch.

It is believed that the Romans were the first to breed them, feeding them with vine and grain. Pliny the Elder (I century) in the 37-volume Natural History writes about fried snails that were eaten with wine before dinner or as an appetizer between feasts and orgies, to which his fellow citizens were great hunters, to stimulate appetite. The Gauls, who inhabited the territory of modern France, served snails as a dessert. And in the Middle Ages, the Church allowed them to eat during Lent. Typically, the snails were fried in oil or with onions, cooked on skewers or cooked. One of the earliest praise for this culinary delicacy appeared in 1394 in the French newspaper Le Managier de Paris.

Snails should be caught in the morning. Collect small young individuals with a black sink from grapes or elderberries and wash them in several shifts of water until the foam no longer appears. Then wash once in salt water or diluted vinegar, pour fresh water and put in a stew. 

Next, the snails should be removed from the sink with the tip of a needle or pin, cut off their black tail, as these are their excrement, washed and stewed in water again, then laid on a dish and served with bread. Others say that the described preparation is not enough: snails should also be fried in oil with onions and seasoned with spices – such a dish can be served in the most refined society.

By the 17th century, the popularity of snails had fallen. In subsequent centuries, over a significant part of the European continent, they were seen not as a potential treat, but as a garden pest. What they are, breeding in countless numbers and devouring almost any greenery. In France, snails became fashionable again after being served at a dinner given by Talleyrand in honor of the Russian Tsar. Since then, France has remained the world leader in their consumption..

In England, snails have always been ruthlessly fought as a serious threat to agriculture and neglected as food. In a curious book entitled Why Don’t We Eat Insects ?, published in London in 1885, its author, Vincent Holt, devotes twelve pages to these creatures. Holt believed that snails, like many insects, fell victim to human prejudices, unwillingness to recognize in them a generous and affordable source of protein.

He advocates, in particular, with the following sentence. Some progress could be achieved through the power of example. Gentlemen could order delicious snail dishes prepared according to recipes used throughout the continent, and over time the servants would begin to imitate them. According to Holt, the erroneous idea of ​​the edibility of only one species of snails also interferes. Whereas the only advantage of its representatives over other snails is a larger size.

The author is convinced of the opposite: all snails are edible. He further writes that in Italy and other European countries in many farms snails are grown in a kind of nature reserves. In specially designated areas of the garden, fenced off with a wooden fence and covered with a net. In such reservations, hundreds of snails live, eating fresh vegetables and those herbs that will give them a pleasant taste. I would like to see such reserves in every English garden.

French Snail Meat Recipe.

Classic Snail Meat.

The best are snails that live in vineyards. Pour some water into the pan and bring to a boil, then dip the snails in it. Cook for a quarter of an hour. Remove the snails from the sinks, rinse them thoroughly several times, then throw them into clean water and cook for another quarter hour. Remove them from the pan and rinse again. Then dry and fry in a frying pan with a small amount of butter until browning. Serve with some hot sauce.

French-style snail meat.

Chop the shells and throw the snails in boiling, slightly salted water with herbs that can create an organic aromatic bouquet. After a quarter of an hour, remove the snails from the water. Remove from the shells and boil again, then transfer to a saucepan with butter, parsley, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and a little flour. After putting out enough, add well-beaten egg yolk and lemon juice or a little vinegar to the stewpan.

Is not it true that already one description causes appetite? Holt’s appeals were ignored by his contemporaries; they were never recognized as worthy of the table either in England or in other developed countries. The attitude towards them as food became more and more favorable, which was associated with the gradual transformation of France into the trendsetter of world culinary fashion. Today, in some areas of this country, snails are starved for a week, or even longer, to remove all toxins from their body. Eliminate all unpleasant smacks associated with the food they consume. In other areas of France, they are planted on an aromatic diet of thyme and other herbs..

How to cook snails?

Of these, the broth is cooked; they are stewed directly in the sinks with wine or with garlic oil, chili sauce and chives; they are freed from shells and cooked with a white sauce based on butter and flour or with garlic mayonnaise and bernez sauce. And they are fried on a wire rack, sprinkled with salt, pepper, thyme and ground fennel.

Serving snails with homemade bread and red wine. In Laos and northeast of Thailand, ampullaria snails are collected in the rainy season in rice fields, simply boiled and eat, dipped in a mixture of crushed garlic, chili, fish sauce and coriander leaves. Traditionally, sticky boiled rice serves as a side dish..

Eating slug meat.

If the above and many other recipes for cooking snails are quite widespread, then slug meat remains now not only in the lowest gastronomic position, but for many on the last line in the list of promising culinary products. The unattractive appearance of common garden and marine (nudibranch mollusks) species of slugs lacking a pretty, geometrically perfect shell could serve as a justification, but crabs, lobsters, oysters, and the same chickens are hardly more attractive.

In fact, the only significant difference between snails and slugs is in the shell. It protects the body of most invertebrate mollusks, but slugs lack this armor. Although they belong to the same classification type, along with squids and octopuses. A shell is an important thing, but snails and slugs have a lot in common. Like snails, land slugs feed on plants, usually at night, and therefore are also classified as pests. As for sea slugs, being in many respects similar to their terrestrial relatives, they feed on corals and other animal organisms..

If land slugs could not get the attention of a hungry public, then fishing and culinary processing of nudibranchs have a long history in vast territories from China and Japan in the south to Eskimo camps in the ice-bound north. Land and sea slugs have some external differences. If the former can be of very different colors, including red, gray, yellow, black and white, and vary in size, depending on the type and age, then the latter in most cases are gray or black in color, much larger and weigh up to 900 grams.

Alas, history has preserved only a few written evidence of the consumption of sea slugs. One of the earliest dates back to the period before the V century and is contained in a fragment of a Chinese source called the Gastronomic canon. There, these creatures are called haishu, that is, sea rats, and are described as similar to leeches, but larger.

Over time, the status of nudibranchs increased, and they became known as haishen, which can be translated as sea ginseng. They attributed the strengthening and tonic properties. In China, nudibranch mollusks were so popular that the emperor sent powerful flotillas to the coasts of Africa and Australia to search for sources of additional supplies..

It got to the point that mollusks became an occasion for a real war. In 1415, the then king of Sri Lanka ordered the Chinese courts to retire, but the Chinese sent troops back, captured the king and continued fishing for slugs at sea and gathering along the coast of the island. One reason for the hype around the mollusks was their alleged ability to increase male potency. This idea was probably based on the external properties of this creature: a long, thick, elastic body that swells from touch.

From the sixteenth century, a Chinese document has been preserved, which proposed in the absence of a mollusk to take the donkey’s penis and be content with it as a gastronomic substitute. In 1913, in Alaska, a woman named Eli Hunt was asked in her native Kwakiutl language about fishing technology and the preparation of nudibranch mollusks. According to her, the hunter, always a man, waited for the ebb and canoeed over the remaining ponds of sea water, stringing on a double-tootted jail in abundance of mollusks remaining in them. He takes a knife and cuts off the slug’s head. Then he squeezes the insides into the water and throws it to the bottom of the canoe with words with force. Now you will be solid as a member of your grandfather.

On the shore of the mollusks soared for two days, then slugs were cooked over an open fire. Since water almost always went over the edge during cooking, the man, according to the storyteller, threw handfuls of dirt from the floor of the hut into the boiler and thus supported the cooking process. After cooking, the mollusks were washed and served again as is. Today, nudibranchs, sometimes because of their shape called sea cucumbers, are most often dried, soaked for several days and then boiled, changing water several times, until the original spongy tissue structure is restored.

Nutritionists highly value sea slugs. True, not for the magical properties of an aphrodisiac, but for zero cholesterol. It is also argued that in the tissues of this mollusk four times more protein than in beef. Although nudibranchs are almost tasteless, many people like to feel their crisp flesh on their teeth. The texture resembles jellyfish and bamboo shoots. The Chinese usually either cook them along with chicken, pork, other seafood and vegetables, or add them to soups.

In Japanese mussel sushi bars, they are sometimes served raw, thinly sliced ​​and soaked in vinegar. As for garden slugs, which cause such disgust at Mrs. Fisher, they can be cooked over low heat in several shifts of water, this will allow the mucus to be removed. And then lay on toasts with creamy mushroom sauce and garnish with sesame seeds.

Based on the book Extreme Cuisine.
Jerry Hopkins.

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