Monday, 9 April 2012

A Kilo of Snails?


I've been enjoying having a friend stay for the past few days. We met 35 years ago while studying archaeology in Birmingham and have a shared background of dodgy student accommodation, damp caravans, abandoned school buildings, soggy tents and back-breaking Land Rover trips; thus, she is the ideal companion with whom to visit ancient sites when the sky is grey and a thunder storm is forecast. We finished up at Peçin Kale just outside Milas. The rain, which we'd been unsuccessfully dodging all day, held off while we climbed up to the fortress but came down in buckets as we wandered around the ruined houses. I was trying to operate my camera while holding an umbrella so not really looking where I was walking, but very quickly became aware of a crunching under foot.  Lots and lots of snails. A forgotten fact jumped back into my mind: snail collecting had been a popular and lucrative side-line in Milas. Dealers would buy them by the kilo and ship them off to France.  A quick look on the internet shows that there is still one snail dealer listed in Milas. Another search throws up the information that these little fellows have been over-collected and are now rare and protected in some parts of Europe. No shortage of these juicy escargot today.

Edible snails, also called Roman snails as the Romans introduced this tasty snack to many parts of their empire. 


12 comments:

  1. I love escargot...BUT only served up in a restaurant and called escargot, not snails. It's ridiculous I know, but while I'm eating them drenched in garlic butter, I never think of them alive or where they come from. Fancy that...a snail dealer in Milas...well who would have believed it!

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    1. if times get hard, I'll be up Peçin Kale with a bucket.

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  2. Yum! Anytime it rains here, hundreds of snails appear near the rear of our apartment building. I think of escargot every time I see them, but I can't make myself "harvest" any and cook them myself! Like Ayak, I'll certainly eat them at a restaurant though. ;-)

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    1. The edible type are quite distinctive. Their ancestors were probably brought from Rome. I don't have any like this in my garden, but being in the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, I bet yours are Roman too.

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  3. A post about edible snails.... a French blog reader. How could I NOT comment! I didn't know that these snails, which I think are the type we call 'escargots de Bourgogne' were found in Turkey too. Others are also edible but these are the best. Should you feel tempted to try your hand at cooking them, my advice is 'don't do it'. The preparation process is long, messy and quite gruesome. So Ayak has a point!

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  4. I know you have to "purge them" i.e. starve them for 3 days and then feed them on milk?? The thought of having a bucket full of hungry snails around is enough to put me off collecting and cooking them.

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  5. J and I were wandering the backways over in Erzurum Province a few years back and came across a valley that was over-run with big Roman snails. Further down the road was a village with a snail cooperative that shipped their members harvesting to France. We asked the locals if they also enjoyed snails in their diet - they were horrified and thought the French were very strange, although they appreciated the income.

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    1. I think I'll leave them to the French too.

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  6. i often wish i could bring myself to eat them as i gather them by the 100 each night in an attempt to slow the inevitable demolishing of my garden - but there's nothing like a bucket of escaping snails crawling up my arm to put me off.

    supposedly their 'slime' is really good for the skin and sought after in over-priced celebrity skin products. another thing i can't bring myself to try out at home!

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    1. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the advert for snail extract face cream.

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  7. Funny French people with their funny French ways.

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