At last we may have found a new source of income on our doorstep, our daughter Imi is proving to be a natural with snails. There’s apparently a 3 year course in gastronomic gastropod management on offer at a specialist college in France but I think she’s already got the touch. The garden wall is the perfect breeding ground and ever since I read about snail caviar (that can apparently fetch as much as Beluga) I’m suddenly feeling rather excited about the armies that pile out of all the little crevices at the first sign of rain. Dainty “Escargot pearls” are apparently a hit amongst Michelin-starred chefs nowadays so it’s just a question of learning how to harvest the tiny foresty-flavoured eggs.
I am joking, not about the caviar but about our snail farming aspirations, and sadly have to admit that I’m not even a huge fan of garlicky French escargots. I know that this does sound terribly pretentious, but the only snail I’ve ever truly savoured was in Heston Blumenthal‘s infamous snail porridge at The Fat Duck, but then he’s a magician. I’m sure that there are a few die-hard foragers who’d bother to go through the days of purging required to prepare their own garden snails for the pot (feeding them carrots and waiting for their pooh to turn orange is apparently the best way to check that they’ve expelled any toxins). Quite honestly I’d rather just bump them all off but I’m meeting some serious resistance. Our snails enjoy virtually protected status thanks to the father/daughter team I’m up against, and now I’m panicking about my foliage. Poisons are banned in case they harm any frogs or birds, barbaric stamping brings bad karma and there’s even a Tippex numbering system in place so that we can monitor our resident snails’ movements.
Now I find myself creeping around the garden under cover of darkness, equipped with head torch, collecting snails (barring numbers 1-42 where there is an amnesty in place) to be relocated up the road beside the Suspension Bridge. Everything was going fine until I got distracted the other night and left the snail bucket in the kitchen overnight. They’ve now all relocated and I have a new army of snails along with their unbearably huge, leopard slug cousins living in my saucepan cupboard.
My dear mum used to sprinkle used ground coffee around the plant, she swears it works. Worth a try? JP x