Thursday, November 20, 2008

Escarg...oh, no, you didn't! or "Them's snails!"

One of my most favorite scenes from Little House on the Prairie was when Mr. Edwards and Charles were eating in a "fancy" restaurant in one of those big cities they always visited for business. They decide to order something really nice, and the waiter suggests the escargots. The men order their "es-car-gots" and when the little morsels arrive at the table, both men are outraged--"Why, them's snails!" they shout as they leave the restaurant in a fury.

I went on a cruise with my husband's family last weekend to celebrate his lovely grandmother's 80th birthday. It was the first cruise for our family of three, and we were told before leaving that we should be prepared for the wonderful food. Guess what? It was wonderful, and there was plenty of it. On the menu for our formal dinner evening I did spy something that always makes me giggle, and well, gag--the incredibly luxurious escargots bourguignon. Them's snails, for us simpletons.

I feel like I have a pretty adventurous pallet, but personally I find a plate of snails, excuse me, escargots, to be one of the most vile dishes I have ever tried to eat. They taste like grass and dirt. What about the delectable garlic butter sauce, you say? Well, I would prefer to eat that on something not disgusting like pasta or vegetables. I may even prefer to eat that on actual grass and dirt rather than consuming an escargot.

So, back to the cruise. I am a Frenchie-Francophile (that means "lover of France" for those of you raising your eyebrows) who has actually lived in France and has been served "escargots done right" and I can imagine no greater punishment than being forced to eat a plate of smelly, once-slimy creatures swimming in fat, garlic, and herbs. My brother-in-law (a very cool guy, by the way) ordered the escargots as his appetizer. He won't eat a fresh tomato, but he will eat a plate of slugs in sauce. I don't get it. Is it the luxe factor? I have a theory on that.

I think it went something like this: Two con men are walking through the woods searching for provisions for their next meal. One looks down at the ground and inspiration strikes. "Hey! Remember how we tricked that emperor into walking around naked? Well, there's plenty of snails here--let's see if we can get the rich people in town to eat them! Get out the garlic butter and herbs!"

It couldn't possibly be that someone saw it as a good idea. Who would seriously look down at the ground and say, "Check out the slime trail that thing's leaving! Looks like good eats to me! Quick, get the garlic butter and herbs!"

Oh oui, Somewhere out there is a dead Frenchman who is laughing hysterically saying, "I so wasn't serious about that! You're not really going to eat those are you???" With a French accent, of course.

An actual escargot de bourgogne. (Apparently a homeless escargot.)
This picture was taken in 1998 in the woods near Autun, France in the region of Burgundy.
Amazingly I was able to take this shot without succumbing to the urge to reach down, snatch him up and eat him.


Pam said...

Very funny - I love it! I would say snails ranks right up there with frog legs on the list of foods I will not try.

Bryssy said...

I tried them and feel the exact same way. Uck!

Donna said...

You are hilarious and yes, I have tried them and no, I didn't get it either. Mine were probably served on a cruise as well, but they might as well have sliced off a chunk of rubber tire and doused it in garlic butter sauce. That's how delectable it was.

I'm in the "adventurous eaters club," but if it's generally not culturally acceptable, I generally do not like it.

Liz said...

You crack me up! I would try them, as I've tried other "delicacies" such as a chocolate-covered ant, but I probably wouldn't like them. They make me think of oysters, which also taste like dirt.

3 Bay B Chicks said...

Your luxe factor is absolutely brilliant. Made me laugh out loud. From one Francophile to another, I must admit that while I have tried to eat escargots, I couldn't get them down. I think the mental image of what I was putting into my stomach was just too much for me to bear.

PS: After seeing the hilarious photo that you included with you post, I am even a more firm believer that snails aren't for me!

Tara said...

This is hysterical! I love it! I've never tried them....nor do I think I ever will. *gag* I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to food. But, I have to agree with you on this one! lol Just thinking about them....**shivers**

Rachel said...

I'm so happy to hear that I'm not the only uncultured one out there (especially among us francophiles!) :) Donna, thanks for the reminder about the texture of those horrid things--a rubber tire is a great analogy.

When I taught high school we would have a culture food day and I would prepare the escargots for the kids to try for extra credit. Preparing them was almost more than I could handle--this smell fills the kitchen when you open the can, and then when you actually see what they look like, well, it's just too much. After I married my husband, he was in charge of getting them ready to cook.

Thank you all for reading my rant today! Come back anytime...;)