by Holladay Allen
Native Foods Cafe
I never tried escargot back in my omnivorous days.
I think it was the fact that I went swimming in our pool almost every
day and would often find slugs creeping along the bottom of the pool. Thinking it was just a piece of wood or
rock I would pick them up and be instantly grossed out by their slimy squishy
texture. I don’t know why, but it
still gives me goose bumps to this day to think about touching them. So you can imagine how creepy it would
be for me to put them in my mouth!
Ick. So how did this come
to be? This French dish involving
covering snails in white wine, butter, garlic and herbs then using specially
designed tongs and forks to retrieve them from shells that they have already been
removed from (in order to clean the shell and prepare the snail), then shoved
back into for presentation purposes… so strange. It would be like preparing steaks, ribs and all the other
cow parts, then putting them back into the hollowed out carcass of the cow… for
This is the Helix pomatia, the most commonly eaten snail in France.
Native Foods Cafe uses this photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
According to Wikipedia,
snail shells found at archaeological digs indicate that snails have been
consumed since prehistoric times… and this makes sense, I mean they are like
the easiest prey ever. Somewhere
along the way, the Romans decided that snails are a delicacy, and often
considered a food of the elite.
Hmmmmmm. Slugs: The Food of
the Elite. I guess it works. Nowadays, they of course found a
strangely inhumane way of raising the snails so those pesky and undesirable
contents of their digestive system are nil. They make the poor little guys fast or even purge them of
their stomach contents. Well thank
goodness for shrooms! Not only can
certain varieties make you hallucinate, but they also make wonderful
substitutions for escargot. I found some morels at the first stage of decomposition on sale at Whole Foods…. score!
Escargot a la Vegan
½ lb button mushrooms, (I used creminis and morels)
2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 TBSP olive oil
a few dashes sea salt
a good amount fresh cracked pepper
2 TBSP vegan butter
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
warm crusty bread
Morels are very earthy, and have a great texture.
Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Mix together capers, garlic, shallots oil, salt and pepper in a owl and let sit for 15 minutes or so.
Add in shrooms and let sit a few more minutes. Then place in baking dish.
Bake for 50 minutes until nice and roasty. Once removed from oven, stir in the butter,
lemon juice and parsley.
Serve hot or room temperature with
some warm crusty bread alongside, and enjoy!