Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I was just musing about my escargot experiences.

Escargot are a childhood memory for me, and are really comfort food in that way. I don't remember the first time I had them, but I do remember being in my grandmother's house in France and my mom and my uncle poking at a bucket and my father telling them not to let me play with them before we eat, lest I become emotionally attached to them. (I had been playing with the snails in the garden earlier the afternoon. These were different snails entirely.) It wasn't a problem.

Escargot themselves have very little taste. They are traditionally served in the shell, packed with butter, garlic and parsley. You taste the fabulous garlicky, buttery goodness, with a little bit of fresh, sharp herb taste from the parsley. The escargot itself comes in with texture more than anything. Often they're toothsome, slightly chewy. Sometimes they're rubbery. Occasionally they're tender and yielding. It's like calamari in that way. That being said, there is something about them that's wonderful, a certain je ne sais pas, if you'll forgive the phraze.

Whenever I see them on the menu at a fancy restaurant, I'm tempted. Often I order them, because I think, "my God! Sign me up!" Although, I have to say, it depends on who I'm with.

I'm pretty lucky that I have a husband who doesn't really blink about being served snails. I can't remember if he had a hard time with it at first; I think he might have, but he's pretty easy going about these things. Pineapple on pizza, too. But I digress.

Ordering snails isn't something you can do in all company. Actually, it probably is, but I'm really not a fan of people telling me the food I'm eating is gross. I've been told my french onion soup looks like a bowl of worms, that my tea looks like urine, and that my tofu looks like slimy styrofoam. What makes people think this is acceptable dining conversation?

I've also had snotty coworkers suggest I'm la-di-dah elite, telling people I'm probably making escargot and filet mignon and pate and bacon wrapped scallops for another coworker's office baby shower. (I was making potato salad, egg strata, fruit tray, cheese and crackers...) What was so hurtful about this is yes, I like these things. It's good food! But I know not everyone does, and I don't push these things on people. Why get all class-warrior about this stuff?

It should be noted that escargot are not all that expensive. You can get a little foil cup tray with maybe 8 prepared, frozen, in the shell for $4, but you can do it yourself for much less. I bought a can of escargot for $2.99, which had about a dozen in it. How much does a stick of butter cost? A few cloves of garlic? A handful of parsley? For a decadent extravagance, it's on par if not better than a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

I also remember a time, a few years ago, when I found a huge bag of large, prepared, frozen escargot at the Erie County Farms for $25. I think there were 100 in the bag, and it would've lasted forever. Unfortunately, we were at a time when our finances were pretty crunched, and while I had the money, I couldn't justify spending it on such a frivolity. I don't regret that decision, but I wish I could find that deal again.

I happened to have some left-over escargot on hand for yesterday's dinner because it was one of Darling Husband's chopped ingredients from Sunday night. He had escargot, mint, beef shoulder, instant mashed potatoes and hearts of romaine. The tasty results will be revealed in a future post.


  1. Yeah, they don't taste like a ton. Maybe clams in a way, but without the sort of briny tang. I don't remember whether I was afraid of them at first or not, though I vaguely recall being far more intimidated by molten stinky cheeses. :-) Which are clearly yummy.

    I don't know, I think it was maybe cause I had already crossed the sushi bridge by the time I ever tried escargot, which was way more of a leap of faith.

    And I'll take filet and escargot over potato salad and whatever she eats any day, so floppy old class warrior co-worker can go suck it. ;-)

  2. In France some low life restaurants fake their escargot by substituting strips of cooked cow udder. I guess the consistency is about the same and garlic butter covers any taste difference.