Les escargots repas de Noël 2011
“When Julius Caesar invaded Gaul in 54 BC, his Roman army was eating snails. According to Ed Pearce, the Gauls came to enjoy eating them for dessert. In medieval France, monasteries and convents farmed snails for consumption. By the 16th century, they were being served at banquets and were very popular with the masses. Just like our friend the frog, they too were considered fish and thus could be consumed on Fridays and during Lent without upsetting the church.
The first time I sat down to a French birthday lunch in the garden of a French family in Orleans, we were served generous, golden slices of quiche aux escargots. It was a bit chewy, but I enjoyed the buttery flavor and proceeded to finish my slice very quickly. Not yet understanding the traditional progression of the French meal, I assumed we were finished. My host brother smiled at me and kindly let me know that this was just the first course. I learned a valuable lesson that day: how to make room for more.
In Paris, my husband ordered escargots à la Bourgignonne (also with butter, garlic and parsley). They came in a special dish with little compartments for the shells and a tiny fork with which to dig out the snail. He ate them all up and wanted more. At Christmas dinner with my French host family in a small city near Montargis (about an hour south of Paris), my host mother served escargots as an appetizer. My husband was absolutely delighted.”
Etymology. Escargot, meaning “edible snail”, seems to date from 1892 and derives from the word escaragol (Provençal) and thence escargol (Old French), ultimately from Vulgar Latin coculium, from Classical Latin conchylium, meaning “edible shellfish, oyster”.