Run, Mollusk, Run! (a.k.a., the Great Snail Rescue of ’11)

The alternate title option for this post was “Snails with Guns”, an homage to “Cows with Guns“, but I wasn’t sure I was up to searching the net for the appropriate graphics 😉

Back to the point.

I have five new pets- five little snail refugees left from this weekend’s culinary adventures. I am, of course, talking about the ubiquitous Portuguese snack, caracóis.

Spring is caracóis time, and grandparents and grandkids, farmers and foodies, gather little snail dudes from flower stalks and veggie gardens. Sometimes, you’ll see so many snails crawling on the same wall, it could give you creepy-crawly Indiana Jones-esque nightmares. Normally, however, the little dudes just hang out and get gathered.

You can buy plastic mesh kilo sacks of them at the grocery store and at the market. Last weekend, at the Farmers Market, they were 3.50 Euros per kilo for a sack of little dudes. (I expect the bigger dudes are more expensive.)

The little dudes are alive when you buy them.

I was pretty sure they were all dead, since they were sealed into their shells to protect themselves from the heat and from drying out. My man assured me they were not. After recent culinary adventures involving live crabs (also subjected to the cooking pot while still alive), I demanded a couple snails be spared.

My man thought I was joking.

Gradissima jokes not about such matters.

You know, dear friends, that I respect and even appreciate the general Portuguese relationship with food. Lots of fresh foods, lots of food from farms, and lots of traditions and experiences and cultural bouquets associated with food items. The Average Joe has high food standards here, and the Average Joe knows how to select and prepare a piece of meat or fish, how to make grandma’s soup, and which wine goes with the dish (at what temperature). It isn’t pretentious. It simply is how things are done. I like that. I also like that folks here have always been respectful of my choice not to consume meat and fish…the most anyone will push is to tell me that I’m missing out on the best fish in the world. 🙂

Back to the lil’ snail dudes.

Everyone has a breaking point. I respect the food (and the fact that folks buy live food here and prepare and eat it with eyes wide open), but I can’t stand suffering. I figured I could get a pardon for a few little dudes, and I did. I insisted on keeping six (in case they weren’t all alive, since I couldn’t tell from their sealed shells).

Now, I’ve got five. They’ve been eating grelhos and alface and morangos, and I have to say, while they still give me the heebie-jeebies (side note: is that an offensive or racist term somehow? let me know), I enjoy watching them crawl around and eat. They’re pretty cute, actually. They even have different personalities. Didn’t see that one coming.

And now, some snail-themed cuteness, thanks to my pal Justine:

Fun facts about the snails:

Meanwhile, the Puppy is thrilled to have a gang to lead. He considers the little dudes his pets. And minions. I believe he envisions something like The Tough Brets developing. I’m  not really sure, however, as the Puppy plays things pretty close to his vest.


2 thoughts on “Run, Mollusk, Run! (a.k.a., the Great Snail Rescue of ’11)

  1. Now- I know all this is true cause you and you. How cute is this? I hope they are all around when we visit. I hope I like their names. I hope Champ hasn’t “tasted” them. Wools

    1. Champ’s gang is safe behind glass… otherwise, my man insists they would run around the house, run up the phone bill, and probably order pay-per-view. Sneaky little fellas…

      They will need good names…suggestions welcome 😉

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