Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"They Actually Eat That:" Escargot.

Humans really are omnivores. Pica (i.e. eating random stuff) aside, there is almost nothing that our stomachs cannot handle. Numerous zoo exhibits have pointed out that, despite the fact that we should be eating leaves with all the other Great Apes, we have evolved systems to work with meat as part of our diets. Screw pigs and goats; humans should be used as the classic "eats anything" animal.

If you watch the video of a goat eating a textbook on YT, the goat only takes a few pages before realizing that law texts do not even taste good.

This has been stated a million times and will never grow old: People eat what's around them. If there is a not-so-appetizing something around, chances are that we will try to eat it, no matter how poisonous it may be. (No doubt the toxicity of poison dart frogs was discovered the hard way.) We can do that; we're omnivores.

That means that we will even eat things that regularly feed on things that are already dead. Things like snails:

They Actually Eat That?!

And it's classy. Really, really classy. You probably know snail meat by the French name of "escargot," but many places eat land snails, from the U.S. to France to Laos and Vietnam. They rank up there with frogs in the category of "notorious French foods," despite their universal appeal.

The snails themselves are usually some species of the genus Helix (which in turn led to snail farming being called "heliciculture"). Eating snails goes back to the prehistoric days (hey, shells preserve well), proving that even ancient humans ate more different things than goats.

Helix pomatia, the Roman snail. Yes, the Romans loved snails, too.

Snails eat carrion, rotten plants, and leaves.  If just listening to some of those made you want to throw up, worry not; farmed escargot are fed grain and have all the toxins 'purged' out of them. Purging can consist of either feeding them grain like other livestock or, umm, starving them.

Escargot, like all molluscs, is low in fat and high in protein. This is, of course, barring any additions; usually, the sauce adds a couple hundred calories by itself. To get REALLY nutritious snails, one would probably have to boil and eat the poor snails oneself. (Also, avoid the canned snails at any cost; they supposedly taste TERRIBLE.) They provide a good "beginner's step" into 'weird' food regardless of their nutritional value.

(I will be giving these snails a try sometime in December-early January. Expect a video! Wish me luck on my THREE finals tomorrow, guys!)

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