Escargot, S’il Vous Plait

snail, garden snail (Copyright http://www.copyright-free-pictures.org.uk)

Doesn't he look yummy?

 

Today’s prompt for NaBloPoMo:

If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?

As I thought about what I would choose for my last meal – steak? crab cakes? chicken parmesan? boeuf bourguignon? – I decided that whatever I chose must at minimum meet this criterion:

  • I don’t have to prepare it myself.

Because really?  If it’s my last meal, I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen cooking it.

That criterion opened up new possibilities as I considered what would be a must-eat that I didn’t have to prepare.

And I decided on escargot.

Yes, I know that escargot means “snail.”

Escargot is awesome. Out of the shell, cooked escargot looks like a piece of mushroom albeit a slightly chewy mushroom. It has a flavor, but it’s subtle; usually, the way it is prepared lends the primary flavor.  And that’s the beauty of choosing escargot: although I’m not too squeamish to eat them, I am too squeamish to prepare them.  I’ve heard my French grandmother-in-law’s tales of traipsing out to the garden and plucking snails for dinner, and that’s just a bit closer to my food than I need to be.

I’ve had escargot at chain steak houses that aspire to be higher class than they are (each escargot encased in a melted butter bath and a crap-ton of melted parmesan).  I’ve had escargot in the shell for which I had to use the utensil that looks like a giant eyelash curler to extract the meat.  Fortunately I never had a situation like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman but escargot really are “slippery little suckers.”  I’ve had escargot in France.  I’ve had escargot in North Carolina. If I see it on the menu, I’ll likely order it.

The best escargot I ever had was at a restaurant in Richmond, Virginia.  Not exactly the escargot capital of the world, n’est-ce pas? However, this dish delivered.  It was an appetizer of escargot and bowtie pasta in a lemon-garlic-butter broth.  I think there were capers as well.  The warmth of the butter, the sour zest of the lemon and the spice of the garlic elevated that humble snail to something divine.   Drool.

If I’m planning my last meal, I need to think of a few more courses (hey, might as well splurge, right?), but at least I know what my appetizer will be.

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