Jura Journal Part 5

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Evening dinner snail tasting

When arriving to dinner we had there was a small open faced counter top oven baking the snails. Walking into the room one could smell the armoa of pesto, butter and garlic. The students were anxious. Some have eaten snails before some have not. When the snails were severed, students stared at the snails as shells as if they were a foreign object lying on their plates. A green like pesto sauce poured out of the top of the shell holes. One held the end of the shell by a metal clamp in one hand while picking the body of the snail out with a toothpick using the other hand. The snail had the same texture as calamari when chewed.  It was chewy but easy to swallow as compared to octopus. The meat of the snail was small, round, brown, warm and delicate. The student sitting to the right of me picked the snail out of its shell and stared at the object hanging from the toothpick. The next course of meal we had was the soup made of stinging nettle that we picked earlier with Denis. It smelled like vegetable soup. It looked like green pureed spinach.  The lasagna was made of butternut squash, goat cheese, spinach, pesto and broccoli. Many flavors were in this lasagna that it was hard to distinguish taste.

Later after dinner we were given a presentation by a local snail farmer in Jura. Snails do not like the sun, so a box must be constructed to guard them. The boxes have to be reconstructed every year due to wear and tare. The box’s must have enough space and be constructed in a manner which permits the snails to move around. When snails are baby’s they are transparent. “Gros-gris” or “big grey” are constructed on the snail farms. One matured to the age of 6 months, snails are considered adults. Snails lay eggs and they are hermaphrodites, meaning that have both genes of male and female. The snails mate in groups of three; however, one of the snails shots an arrow to the head of another snail and mates with the chosen snail not struck. Snails mate in February and are cultivated in one place. They are then taken to fields moist conditions where baby snails grow until they reach 6 months. Snails are fed calcium for their shells; however, they are not protected from predators such as birds and rats. By September, snails are matured, collected and hung on a net to dry and fast (or sustain from eating).  The reason why they have to fast for a few days is so that toxins will be out of their system before preparation and consumption by humans.

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