Today, 24 May, is National Escargot Day! To celebrate the day, we take a look at the history of this French dish and share where you can dine on escargots around Australia.
Escargots have been eaten since prehistoric times but not in the way they are prepared today. Then they were eaten by those who couldn’t afford to eat anything else. Quite far from the delicacy they have become today.
The origin of the dish is in Burgundy where snails are cooked with garlic, parsley and butter. This preparation is known as the escargot à la bourguignonne.
The popularity of escargots is attributed to the then French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Talleyrand, who, in 1814, was organising a reception for the Russian Tsar who was in Paris. He wanted to impress him and serve him something he’d never eaten before. His chef was Antonin Carême , a Burgundian, and escargots was in its beginnings a Burgundian dish.
The snails you eat in France aren’t likely to be French anymore. The Burgundian variety of snail, Helix pomatia, is no longer seen in France having suffered from its popularity and also the use of pesticides. Now, the snails you eat in France are actually from Eastern Europe unless they are from specific snail farms.
Helix pomatia is a protected species in France so you’re not allowed to be collected during their reproductive period from 1 April to 30 June. Outside of that time, you’re not allowed to collect or sell them if their shell is less than 3cm in diameter.
There are also other regional takes on the dish:
- Escargots à l’alsacienne – cooked with dry white Alsatian wine, stock, lard, onion, parsley, 1 bouquet garni, 4 spices, aniseed, salt and pepper
- Escargots à la bordelaise – cooked in a tomato base with Armagnac, Espelette chilli, ham and duck
- Escargots à la provençale – cooked with chopped tomatoes, rosé wine, speck, prosciutto, chilli, dill, parsley
WHERE YOU CAN GET ESCARGOTS FOR NATIONAL ESCARGOT DAY
Boucher always has its roast snails in the shell with garlic & parsley butter on the menu.
Bistro Guillaume‘s Escargot En Persillade with a Brioche Crumb is one of its menu staples across its Perth and all of the Bistro Guillaume restaurants. Available on the menu all year round, the perfectly prepared dish is a delicious treat that begins by placing the snails into specialised dishes and topped with a classic French sauce known as ‘Persillade’ that consists of parsley, butter and a delicate brioche crumb. The dish is perfectly paired with grilled sourdough.
L’Heritage serves its escargots all year round so you can enjoy them on National Escargot Day and every day. Their snails are poached in court bouillon, roasted w/ confit garlic and persillade butter, sliced baguette.
Happy National Escargot Day! Have you ever tried escargots? Where do you go for them?
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