Throughout France snail hunting, la chasse aux escargots, is one of the children’s favorite pastimes.* Snails are gathered right after a rainfall in wire baskets and kept there or in cages for two weeks, and are fed only flour or chaff so that their systems are purged of all the unpleasant slime. Before cooking they are rinsed in vinegar or water. In Marseilles entire meals of snails, caracolades, are served, and in marketplaces cooked snails are often sold as snacks in paper cones.
In the South of France there are two kinds of escargots: les blanquettes, which are whitish and plump, and les petits gris (cantareu in Nice), which are striped gray and white and served with aïoli monstre or a strong tomato and red pepper sauce.
Snails can also be the base of an omelet. Here is a Provençal recipe that can be used for either kind of snails. For a main course, double all the ingredients. In Provence peasants eat snails with a straight pin. Here aluminum snail dishes and forks can be bought to set a more elegant table.
Preheat the broiler. Place the empty snail shells in a baking dish and put a snail and
Simply sauté the snails with herbs and garlic and serve as is, comme ça. Or serve them with hot tomato sauce or aïoli.
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