Our dear visiting friend Dan made this discovery when he was helping our neighbor Jane do some yard work. As soon as he realized that there were a lot of snails, he thought about menus and suggested that we could have snails as an appetizer for his big homemade meal before heading home.
First he had to collect the snails – sort of a snail round-up. He created a corral/stockyard (a large clay pot turned upside down) and then put the snails on a regimen of basil and other herbs, spinach, leaves, grass and water.
For the next few days, the snails ate and drank their fill. They seemed to love the basil and spinach. Dan tried to exercise them by taking them for a walk but after three days of walking they had only gone 30 meters.
When we decided the date for our dinner aux escargots, Dan changed their diet. In fact, put them on a water only diet so that they could clear their systems. Jane’s gardener came one afternoon and saw the snails and heard about Dan’s menu plans and affirmed that Dan was going through the right steps. (Dan had read a number of articles on preparing snails so he knew what he was doing.) Step 1: jeûner (fast, abstain from eating) for three days. The snails had only water during this period. Step 2: cleaning/de-sliming the snails with water and salt. After that, it was clean again, cook and serve. Dan chose to serve them in a butter-based persillade (garlic, shallots and parsley).
The dish was excellent. The presentation was attractive, the texture of the snails was perfect and the flavors were wonderful (what’s not to like when the ingredients include garlic and butter and parsley).
I am no expert but I think that free-range snails that Dan made actually tasted better than those raised at the snail farms….