What is escargot exactly, and have you ever eaten French snails?

What is escargot exactly, and have you ever eaten French snails? It’s a fact that there are foods that make us writhe. You couldn’t pay me to eat any of the many that I have!

Snails, or escargot (es-car-GO), are not one of them, though.

Given that snails are regarded as one of the strangest foods in France (at least strange to some), why DO the French eat them?

RELATED: The Top 10 Traditional European Recipes

What is escargot exactly, and have you ever eaten French snails?

Why are snails so well-liked in France, and what exactly is escargot?

There are three main relationships that French people have with snails.

The first example—which you might find hard to believe—is the French person who refuses to eat snails, either because they’ve never tried them and don’t want to, or because they’ve tried them and detested them. There is a category for this. No escargots at all!

Those who eat snails occasionally make up #2, which is by far the most common. Given the publicity, one would think that snails are so popular that they are a staple of the traditional French breakfast. However, no.

This couldn’t be further from the truth: most French people only eat snails on special occasions, like New Year’s or Christmas dinner, when it’s customary to do so.

A lot of restaurant menus feature fresh snails as well, so if we see them and hear they’re good there, we might place an order.

French history of escargot

To be clear, snails are mollusks that are members of the gastropod class, which also includes slugs.

For millennia, people have also eaten them. Hunter-gatherers are known to have consumed snails as food in the sixth century BCE, and the Romans were huge fans of them. Remains have been discovered amidst ruins in Benidorm, Spain, and Volubilis, Morocco. Pliny referred to them as “elite food”.

The origin of escargot in France, however, is somewhat ambiguous.

Some claim that Julius Caesar brought them to the nation during his conquest of Gaul, while others cite the discovery of escargot fossils in Provence several years prior to Caesar’s ravenous gaze falling upon Gaul.

Even though they were less common in the Middle Ages, there are still mysteries here.

According to some accounts, the church regarded snails as impure; however, because they were classified as fish and thus fit for consumption on Fridays, some monasteries were known to have escargotières, or snail farms. The snail was a welcome substitute for meat on Fridays when Catholics were prohibited from eating it until 1966.

The visit of Tsar Alexander to Prince Talleyrand, Napoleon’s top diplomat, appears to be the catalyst that catapulted snails into the culinary spotlight in France.

The story goes that one day in 1814, the Imperial party happened to drop by a restaurant in Burgundy. Nothing appropriate was on hand for its chef, Antonin Carême (this does seem highly unlikely, don’t you think?)

He saw some snails while strolling around his garden and thought it would be a great idea to serve them to the Tsar. In order to help with swallowing, he added butter, parsley for color, and garlic to “hide the taste”.

A new dish was created as a result of the Tsar’s inability to forget those “Burgundy snails” upon his return home. Maybe not.

However, there’s an additional tale that also features Talleyrand. In this one, he is in Paris and wishes to show the Tsar something new as a way of impressing him.

He gave his chef the order to cook escargots. The chef’s original plan was to cook snails in wine, but Talleyrand thought this was too simple.

The chef made the decision to cook them in the Burgundian manner, using butter, parsley, and garlic.

Whatever its beginnings, the dish shot to fame and is now a French staple.

Snail Cooking Recipe: Traditional French Escargots with Garlic Butter

This is a straightforward, traditional French recipe for escargots Bourguignonne, which calls for purchasing escargots in a can without the shells. If snail shells are not available, you can purchase or utilize tiny puff pastries. Another name for them is Escargots de Bourgogne, or Burgundy Snails.

  • 15 minutes for preparation
  • Cook for fifteen minutes.
  • Produce: one to two dozen escargots


  • One can (12–24) of prepared escargots
  • 12–24 mini-puff pastries or escargot shells
  • 40–80g of room-temperature butter
  • two cloves of garlic, to taste
  • a dash of salt
  • several parsley leaves


  1. Make the butter and refrigerate it for the entire night, if possible. If not, you can put it to immediate use.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and finely chop your parsley and garlic. Put away.
  3. Using a fork, work the butter until it becomes soft. If at all possible, add the garlic/parsley mixture, stir, and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Drain the can and set aside to prepare your escargots.
  5. Place a single escargot into each shell with your fingers. Press butter to the rim of the remaining shell.
  6. Continue until all of your escargots are filled.
  7. Transfer them to a baking dish or onto escargot plates, then bake for ten minutes, or until the butter is bubbling and melted.
  8. Serve with French wine, preferably white.

Where to get snails in France

Escargots can be purchased in a few different ways, and if you’re not eating them at a restaurant, you’ll be eating them at home.

  • When starting from scratch, canned snails are the easiest to prepare at home. They can be cooked in champagne, boiled in broth, or prepared in advance. Because stuffing the shells is part of the fun, this is my favorite. Because the shells can be reused, canned snails and their shells are typically sold separately. Simply boil the shells in water when you’re done, let them dry, and they’re ready for your next escargot meal.
  • For those who believe shells are unhygienic, supermarkets usually have snails in their refrigerated section, either in their shells or in a puff pastry.
  • There might also be snails in the freezer section, already tucked into their shells and stuffed with garlicky butter 카지노사이트.

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