Escargots


 

I’m back home in Japan, but that’s not a reason to keep on showing you some of the delicious food I ate while I was in France.

Today the infamous escargots!

 

snails and garlic

 

First of all, I’ve always found amusing that English speakers used the French word for this dish when there is a perfectly acceptable one. I guess it’s a way to turn a potentially gross food into something fancy sounding.

So if you don’t speak French I have two valuable pieces of information for you:

  1. French language doesn’t sound fancy for us French people, it sounds normal.
  2. Escargots is the French word for Snails. So when we’re eating escargots, we don’t think we’re eating some fancy exotic food, we think that we’re eating snails. And we’re not grossed out by it, because there is nothing gross about that; and I’m convinced that if less English speakers were so disconnected from where what they eat comes from, they wouldn’t be grossed out by so many things either. We can’t completely blame them though, as their language plays a big role in that disconnect, calling cows beef, pigs pork and so on.

 

Escargots 2

 

Mini rant aside, here are a few tidbits about escargots and snails:

While it’s a quite typical French dish, French people don’t constantly eat them. I must have had escargots a dozen of times in my life, for no other reason that it’s not such a common dish. Actually, I had some during this Christmas break simply because I stumbled upon a guy who was selling some at the market and I thought that I hadn’t had any in about five or six years.

Also, these species of snails are nothing special. There are the most common snails you’ll find in South West France, there are plenty of those very kind in my parents backyard after a rainy day during the warmer months of the year. However, they weren’t just picked up from the ground. The guy I bought them from is a “stockbreeder.” That being said, some people never buy snails and just pick them up from the ground after the rain.

I bought those already cooked, but it is of course completely possible to cook them yourself. I’m sure you can find some recipes online.

As always, if you get the chance to try some, don’t pass it. You can’t say that you don’t like them before you had them.

Bon Appétit !

 

 


About David Billa

David was born and raised in the French South West. After a few years in the US and a few more in Paris, he finally settled down in Japan. He blogs here about his various experiences and travels, with an emphasis on his home country, France.

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4 thoughts on “Escargots

  • Susan Walter

    Ahem…I think you will find that it was the French speaking Normans and their sense of the proper distance one should maintain between the aristocracy and the filthy Anglo-Saxon peasants that resulted in there being a distinction between the Anglo-Saxon word for the beast and the French word for the meat in many cases. The French words got absorbed into the English language and we have the current range of words.

    Snails are fairly over rated, and rarely served in any more creative way than in garlic butter. I’d rather have delicious garlic butter with something else a bit more interesting.

    • David Post author

      Yes and No. 😉
      Yes, it is the French speaking Normans who introduced “beef” “pork” “mutton” and so on (as well as about 70% of English vocabulary).
      But I’m not sure if their “sense of proper distance” that created the divide, more simply the fact that Normans and the aristocracy in general kept on speaking French for centuries after that (until the 15th century I believe) while the people kept on speaking old English, both languages merging little by little over those four centuries.
      I believe (but I could be wrong) that the linguistic divide between the food and the animal mostly came from the fact that meat (except for chicken – and you’ll notice that chicken as well as most birds – kept their Anglo-saxon name for both the animal and the food) was almost never on the table of commoners at the time.

  • Anna

    My sister and I tried snails (yes we call them snails) years ago when we were in France. I think they are ugly little creatures, so I didn’t expect to like them, but we both enjoyed them. We loved paté even though we’re not crazy about liver. I still miss the everyday French fare.

    • David Billa Post author

      Glad you tried. That’s the idea.

      Concerning pâtés, a lot of them don’t contain liver. Actually liver pâté is just type of pâté, but not the most common one.