As someone who used to live in France, I’ve had escargot many times, and I don’t think there’s anything strange or disturbing about eating snails. Of course, the usual method of preparation is to remove the snails from their shells, cook them with loads of butter and garlic, and then insert the mixture back into the shells and bake them—just so diners can remove them again, using special tong-like holders for the shells and tiny forks for the meat. Point being, all you can really taste is the butter and garlic anyway. But it’s National Escargot Day (in the United States, weirdly enough—not France), so today’s as good a day as any to give the dish a try.

The first time my wife and I visited France, we were sitting at an outdoor table at a restaurant in Provence, enjoying a leisurely dinner. While I was eating my salad, I noticed a live snail climbing on a planter next to the table. And, perhaps because I’d had just the right amount of pastis, I decided to try feeding it. I tore off a tiny strip of lettuce, held it in front of the snail’s mouth (or, at least, where I guessed the mouth should be), and sure enough—the snail ate out of my hand. Very slowly, yes, but it did consume that strip of lettuce, and since the snail’s neck was translucent, I could observe the leaf’s progress. It was a weird experience, but kind of cool. But if you find it hard to stomach eating snails, try feeding one instead. Just a thought.

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