Sunday, December 07, 2008


What a week. I decided to provide snails for the students (I teach high school French) to try, as an end-of-year celebratory cultural moment. First we had to send the Snail Letter home (Dear Parent: please indicate below your permission for NAME to try a snail) and then get the Snail Letter back. That was an event in itself. Then came Snail Day. I didn't expect the kids to be so excited: I thought, rather, that I'd hardly have any takers at all. This is why, at Pennisi, I only bought one 8 dozen tin of snails ($20) rather than two. I thought that there'd be no way that four classes could get through more than 90 snails. The night before, I carefully prepared the garlic butter sauce on the back of the tin. The quantities were about right, I thought.

For the giant tin of 8 dozen snails:

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 tsps salt

  • 2 crushed cloves garlic

  • lots of finely chopped parsley (almost a whole bunch should do it)

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Few drops cognac if you like

  • I also added a few shakes of dried oregano

Mush all these things together very well. I used the processor. At snail time, drain the tin, pop a few molluscs in a microwaveable dish with a lid, add a scoop of butter sauce, microwave on medium or low until sauce sizzles and snails are hot through.

You can also (much more traditionally) do them in the oven, but I only had the school microwave.

I handed out toothpicks and paper napkins to the students. They crowded around the dish, with predictably horrified looks, but somehow still entranced by the wafting aroma of garlic bread. There's no child alive who can turn down garlic bread.

The snails look like little brown, twisted prawns with no heads. Or maybe little circles of mollusc meat would be more appropriate. Once they'd gotten over the festiness of their appearance, the kids scoffed those snails like there was no tomorrow. One kid ate ten. Then another kid tried to beat him by eating fifteen. At some point I had to pause them in their snail-feast, in case I ran out for the other classes. They were asking for the recipe, writing down Pennisi's address, getting tips on the sauce, the lot. I was very impressed.

And there was only one puker, and it was out on the concrete, not on my carpet, just as I had requested. Excellent.

But it turned out that they had inhaled the snails so enthusiastically that I had to go back to Pennisi's for a small tin (2.5 dozen, about $5) for the next day. There were dishes of snails travelling around the school, being delivered to the principal, being delivered to the tuckshop, people hearing about Snail Day and turning up at my staffroom with a fork, kids who don't study French arriving, salivating, staff coming from all corners of the school hoping for a snail or two, tears and disappointment when I finally had to tell them that I'd run out of snails.

So as a school, we ate over 120 snails in two days. Pretty impressive... and looks like I'll have plenty of interest and support for Snail Day 2009.

1 comment:

Adrasteia said...

That's a cool story Pinky! I want to try a snail now.