edible land snails

Escargot is a dish of cooked land snails, usually served as an appetiser in France and in French restaurants, and it is no secret that many people find snails to be a delicious starter to a meal, something of a delicacy, which makes them rather expensive.

I know, it's not something you even want to think about, and if you haven't yet tried them, the idea may not be very appealing...but you may well be surprised.

In rural parts of France, it is not unusual to see locals wandering the roadside hedgerows searching for snails. But before they can be eaten, the snails have to be purged, killed, removed from their shells, and cooked (usually with garlic butter, chicken stock or wine), and then placed back into the shells with the butter and sauce for serving. Additional ingredients may be added, such as garlic, thyme, parsley and pine nuts.

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Like most molluscs, escargots are high in protein ( as much as 15%) and low in fat (if cooked without butter), but in reality they are about 80% water.

The snails are first prepared by purging them of the likely undesirable contents of their digestive systems. The process used to accomplish this varies, but generally involves a combination of fasting and purging or simply feeding them on a wholesome replacement. The methods most often used can take several days.

Farms producing Helix aspersa for sale exist in Europe and in the United States. In the late 1980s, escargots represented a $300 million-a-year business in the US.

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