…give a snail a good name …


Raising the profile of snails is not an enviable task. On the face of it, which is hard to define and thus rarely seen, the snail remains a slimy intruder which is either crushed beneath the gumboot or sent sailing over the fence to enjoy our neighbour’s lettuces. Lift a flat stone and there will be slugs and snails but, hopefully, no puppy dog tails…that would be too weird and, if it were true, it would signify that Stephen King was the gardener and now would be a good time to leave. However, garden soil is supplanted by olive oil when the slug in a shell suit is reborn as ” l’escargot”. The prefix of “gastro” has, until recent years, been an unfortunate one which was, to the great majority, attached either to pain or poshness : gastroenteritis or gastronomy, neither of which was welcome.


The current zeitgeist, with the creation of the gastropub, gastroporn and the gastrodrome, has turned such prejudice on its head which change of heart has made ubiquitous the appearance on our tables of this handsome gastropod in its preferred hot bath of verdant garlic butter . The heros of these pictures are “cagouilles”, celebrated molluscs of the Charente Maritime, a bag of fifty of which was bought by some friends of ours when they were staying with us some years ago. Jenny likes snails, but not to eat, whereas the others in the company felt exactly the opposite emotion. Snails do not arrive easily on the plate: it takes meticulous preparation to create such a tiny feast. Check out the link below.



In the final analysis it’s the pleasure of eating hot garlic butter soaked up in good bread that makes the snails so good to eat, which anathema may well have me tarred, feathered and ridden out of town backwards on a racing snail by the local amateurs of the “cagouille”..

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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66 Responses to …give a snail a good name …

  1. Reblogged this on Westminster Enterprise Centre and commented:
    ohhh we are not too sure about the snails but amazing pictures!

  2. Mad Dog says:

    I keep meaning to round some up from the garden and feed them oatmeal for a week. I wish you could do the same with slugs, but even Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall couldn’t make them enjoyable. It’s definitely garlic and butter that make the taste, but I quite enjoy the snail texture too. One day I hope to go to the Spanish snail festival in Lleida:

  3. margaret21 says:

    There was snail farm round our way, and great bubbling vats of their products tended to be available at all feasts and festivals. It smelt appetising. It was appetising. Only spoilt by the little bullets of india rubber that somehow were an essential part of the mix…….

  4. That brings happy memories.

  5. Darya says:

    Oh how I adore snails. I know it is the herb and garlic butter that make it so special, but I love the whole process, serving them in a piping hot plate with the special utensils, pulling them out of the shell, mopping up the sauce with bread… Great text and pictures, as always!

  6. Salivating from your pictures.
    I haven’t seen these particular snail in Paris I don’t think..
    Beautiful shells.

  7. Amanda says:

    Gorgeous photos. I happen to enjoy snails, the garlic butter eating kind. I totally agree with your hilarious observation that the prefix “gastro” usually connotes something painful or bad. haha! So true.

  8. cecilia says:

    You are wonderful.. c

  9. I like snails but I agree – it’s probably more to do with what they’re served in! Stunning photos and I agree about the “gastro” too…

  10. EllaDee says:

    As I was reading I was considering my response, but in your wisdom and efficiency the last sentence accomplishes that as well 🙂

  11. Francesca says:

    No to the snails, yes to the garlic butter,

  12. Gerlinde says:

    Many moons ago my girlfriend and I tried to clean snails in our apartment in Germany, after three days we decided to let them go in our landlords garden. I lost interest in those slimy little buggers but your pictures are so gorgeous that I may try them again.

  13. What gorgeous snails. I am in the majority, and not with Jenny on this one – I don’t like snails, but they are nice to eat 🙂 and look at all that butter…mm.

  14. I am with the people who will eat snails but don’t want to spend an extended period of time with live ones. Admittedly, the first (and only) time I had snails wasn’t impressive enough for me to bother ordering them again/

  15. Andy Szpuk says:

    Glad I came out of my shell and read this.

  16. Angeline M says:

    Ok, no pretenses here. Nope, these little buggers would not make it past my garden. But I’d certainly enjoy a bowl of garlic and melted butter with bread. And a glass of wine.

  17. Eha says:

    Oh how I would love to try a plate of your ‘cagouille’ and not just for the garlic butter! Anyways I read every word of your link [thank you, kind Sir!] and found a delightful new way I am going to try them with feta !! In the ‘olden days’ did all the right things feeding the darling beasties for 3-4 days with flour and then etc etc – these days I admit to the easier way out . . . funny, mine never have resembled rubber bullets and like I loved salsify [ 😉 !] both my daughters from about age 3 would always nominate snails as their favourite food! [OK: peculiar family!!]

  18. I always avoided snails until my French chef friend made me eat them. Love them now.

  19. After the pumpkin fiasco of a few days ago, I expected that you would make snails taste wonderful, but how on earth do you make them so beautiful!

  20. Sally says:

    Now craving snails slathered in garlic butter… for breakfast. Beautiful

  21. MELewis says:

    So true. In that case I’ll skip the snails and go for the garlic butter and bread. If only those gorgeous pix of yours could supplant the mental images of the real deal living in my garden…

  22. catterel says:

    Really well cooked snails aren’t rubbery at all, and you have brought back some wonderful gastro memories for me. As this part of the UK is now so multinational, I shall go and dig around in the local supermarket – maybe I’ll strike lucky among the Asian, African, Caribbean and Eastern European specialities!

  23. My first snails were in Paris on the Champs-Élysées when I was in college. They were amazing. I’ve been hard pressed to have snails that have lived up to the first dish. Some were close but many were blackened messes.

  24. Emily Gooch says:

    Gorgeous photos. The dish looks delicious though I’m not sure I can eat this type of snail. I used to help my grandmother in the garden and I was her official snail stomper. Had to scrape many off the bottom of my boots. But if I’m ever in Paris, who knows… I just might give it a try. 😉

  25. Damn delicious!!!
    i recently made paella with snail, and this post made me craving for some snail right now….

  26. lsanderford says:

    I’ve only had escargot once and I thought they had a good flavor. I did cut them up into tiny pieces though so that they didn’t look so much like snail. I always wondered whether there was a particular snail that was supposed to be used, but I didn’t actually look it up until after I read your blog post – which is funny because I usually look things up right away when I have a question. 🙂 Great post!

  27. Karen says:

    Oh I have had some delicious snails in France. Love the whole experience of eating them but would not want to think about having them around for days cleaning and cooking them. 😀

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