A gastropod mollusc, the snail is a terrestrial herbivorous animal that lives inside a spiral shell. It has been eaten for centuries and may have been one of the first animals to become a staple of the human diet. Highly valued since Roman times, it was bred by the Romans and is now farmed intensively in France, Algeria, and Turkey. The snails most commonly eaten in these countries are the white Burgundy or vineyard snail, which is 3 - 5 centimetres long and coiled inside a yellowish brown shell that is usually adorned with three to five brown spiral stripes, and the petit-gris or garden snail, which measures between 2
Snails are sold frozen, canned, or cooked. In France and certain other countries, it is also possible to buy live snails.
Fresh or cooked snails can be refrigerated put a weight on top of it to prevent the snails from escaping; for up to 3 days, and shelled snails can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Preparing Live Snails
- Wash the snails in cold water; if necessary, remove the hard partition covering the opening of the shell;
- Disgorge the snails (3 – 4 dozen) for 3 hours in a mixture of coarse salt (a handful), vinegar (
Snails are often served in a special dish (escargotiere) divided into 6 or 12 sections. They can be prepared in many different ways: grilled, sautéed, or cooked on brochettes or in sauces, court bouillon, or puff pastry. A snail served piping hot in garlic butter is a classic appetizer.