FOOD gathering is the instance, par excellence, of time spent procuring and preparing something to eat out of all proportion to the time spent in consuming it. But this engrossing subject is and is not a long way from snails and indeed frogs as gastronomic specialities.
A friend of ours, a painter, evolved an excellent spaghetti sauce with certain landsnails (cozze di terra) as a base, which in summer collect on the long wands of wild fennel on uncultivated land. He goes out early to collect them, as people come from distant villages inspired by a similar ambition. If you happen to be passing, they hasten to assure you that they are collecting snails as a diversion, that is, not from need.