Snails have been on the menu and the blog before because they are a summer delicacy and are cooked in this household for the fiesta of Agia ( female Saint) Paraskevi on 26th July.
They are gathered in the winter or at the end of long hot summer when it finally rains and they all come out to dance the happy snail dance. We gather them up and leave them to feed on herbs, flour and macaroni to flush out the wastes of their little internal digestive systems and purge their discharge tracts. The snails, the little garden variety, then close themselves off and settle down for a long winter's nap.
Snails stored in an old pillowcase....in the fridge, not under the bed
We buy them by the kilo from our local grocer
Snails on a bed of spaghetti and rosemary
The membrane used to close themselves off from the world is scraped off each snail with a sharp knife. Our traditional person does this boring job. I used to but really my life is now too short to include tedious cleaning of snails.
They are then washed thoroughly, looked at individually to make sure each one is open and fresh, and placed in a container covered very firmly with netting. Don't want any of these little ambrosiacs escaping. They slowly awake, have a few nibbles and then of course try to escape and often do. But they don't go far. Their fate awaits
After a few days they are boiled, humanely. Is that possible. Then an even more boring job begins of cutting the top off each snail so air can penetrate and and they can be sucked easily from the shell with a greasy, noisy slurp
The last of a plate of snails.
Then the most important part of the operation begins, the making of the sauce. The success of the snails depends on the taste of the sauce. A naked snail is neither desirable nor appreciated.
First of all you need lots of sliced onion and garlic.
Bay leaves and freshly grated tomato
A wine glass of your best Greek olive oil
Salt and loads of freshly grated pepper
Rosemary and thyme
All the rich, fragrant tastes of the med
These fresh ingredients are slowly stewed till the sauce is thick and soft and then the snails are poured into the sauce and mixed well. Preferably they are left a few hours to take in all that delicious sauce.
Then you suck the insides out and sop up the sauce with lots of bread. Any that can't be sucked out are poked out with a toothpick. Careful with the sucking. A little extra suction will find a snail disappearing down your throat in one very unexpected swoop.
Eat well away from small grandchildren who object noisily to the lusty sucking sound that you are making.
I see in my snail investigation that these are yet another area that the all governing EU (European Union) has decided to stick its pervasive finger into. In some EU countries it is forbidden to collect snails because they are becoming a disappearing species. If you decide to live dangerously and collect a few anyway they must be over 3cms. I presume we are talking about French and Cretan snails here which are much larger . Garden snails are not an endangered species in my garden and they are a helluva lot smaller than those 3cm monsters.