My first memory of snails was at a park near my house. I watched the snail make a slime path, slowly moving up the sidewalk. I was grossed out by the slime and couldn’t bear to hold it in my hand like my brave sister could. It never crossed my mind that one day I would eat one of those slimy bugs, but while in Paris, I must do as the Parisians do. That means eating snails in Paris.
The thought of trying snails evokes mixed emotions of curiosity and apprehension.
I make reservations at a restaurant that advertises snails on their website. It wasn’t until after I sat down they told me they didn’t have snails that day. Disappointed but determined, I wanted to find a restaurant that served snails.
The next day, I take a tour of the Paris Opera. Afterward, it’s around 1 p.m., and I am starving for lunch. I stop by a restaurant right next to the Opera. From the corner of my eye, I see escargot. They have snails. I have to eat here.
After sitting down, the waiter brings bread to the table, as every Parisian restaurant seems to do. Good, something to wash down the snails in case they are wrong. A friend from home tells me they taste like buttery boogers. I hope they are wrong.
I order a glass of wine, escargot, and the butcher’s choice at Entracte Opera. When the waiter brings over snails, he asks. Have you ever tried snails before? I tell him I haven’t, and he kindly shows me how to hold the snails with the tongs and take the tiny fork to pull it out. While he made it look easy, holding the shell of the snail. While grabbing the ends of the tongs, I keep dropping the snail’s body.
When I finally get a hold of it. I stabbed the fork inside the shell and pulled the snail out. It didn’t look like anything I expected. It seems like a tiny mushroom.
Steps to eating a snail
- Use tongs to grip the shell of the snail
- With your right hand use the snail fork.
- Use the fork to pull the snail out
I put the snail in my mouth.
Oh, that’s good. I looked at my friend who came with me with utter surprise. I expected the snail to be slippery, but the texture tasted like a mushroom smothering in pesto and olive oil. Entracete Opera is where you should go to eat snails in Paris.
I savored every bite until the last snail was gone.
The taste is divine. I cannot believe how good they were. The texture of the snail is neither rubbery nor slimy as my preconceived notions had suggested, but rather tender and akin to a perfectly cooked mussel. A mussel lathered in butter, oil, and pesto that is a symphony of flavors. Now I need clarification as to why other countries besides Paris haven’t started doing the same.
Although I was apprehensive to try snails the first time, they were far more delicious than I imagined. Now, I need to make more trips to Paris or find where to eat snails in Chicago. Either option is okay with me.
While the snails were delicious, when the rest of the meal came, the rest of the food was equally tasteful.
Now, this begs the question, should you try snails in Paris. Yes. Although I would understand the hesitancy, I highly recommend trying snails on your visit to Paris. They are safe to eat if cooked properly. In French culture, escargot is purged, killed, shelled, and cooked. Usually, snails are cooked in garlic or butter.
Be sure to go to a reputable restaurant when trying this delicacy for the first time.