I feel confident that I can cook anything. And when given the opportunity to cook something new or unusal, the result falls somewhere between fair and outstanding.

An elk my Dad shot and then butchered in the garage? Check.

Morning glory leaves from a street market in Vietnam? check,check.

Wedding cake for 500 people that looks like it’s destinedfor the Mad Hatter’s tea party? No problem.

But when our resident test garden gal, Johanna Silver, askedme to cook a few snails that she pulled out of our garden, I became a little...well,intimidated.

I’ve eaten escargot plenty of times. After foie gras andsweet breads, it’s generally a sure thing order for me when I see it on menu.But I’ve never actually cooked it. Atleast not the fresh ones, still alive and sitting in a tray in our kitchen,living on a cornmeal diet to fatten them up.

Here’s my first dilema: What exactly is a snail? Is it likeabalone (which I just learned is a type of sea snail), which cooks veryquickly? Or is it more like octopus, which is better cooked longer, to softenthe proteins?

I know that I want to cook our snails with the traditionalbutter, garlic, parsley, etc. and serve them with a nice crusty Frenchbaguette. But should I cook them slow and long? Hot and fast? Should they bebaked? broiled? sautéed?

I think research in one of those old, dusty, classicalFrench cookbooks on our shelves is called for.

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