Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Brian Is Gonna Get It

This morning I woke up full of purpose, thrust and vim with one clear objective on my mind, today was the day that I was finally going to cut the small lawn in our front garden. Personally, I find mowing the grass one of life's more tedious chores especially since I own an ancient Qualcast hover mower that seems to fold blades of grass neatly in half rather than actually cut them. With rising anger and frustration, I often give in to a propensity to start grinding the machine into the turf, teeth gritted as my arms shake violently, sending clumps of soil flying into the ether. The end result is usually akin to my Dad's attempts to cut my hair with a pair of blunt scissors when I was younger, a patchy morass of bald spots with the odd tuft springing up here and there. But the job had to be done and I've been putting it off for too long so I gave it a good crack early this morning. Because my mower is so rubbish it doesn't collect the grass so after the exercise, I had to stoop down and collect the long green sheaves with my bare hands (oh woe is me). As I was doing so, with each sodden handful I kept finding a snail nestled within and we're not talking about babies here, we're talking big, juicy, fat gastropods. I suppose that this shouldn't have come as a surprise given that the Bank Holiday had just past with the usual deluge of rain. Actually I think I was more perplexed that so many survived the onslaught. But as I stood there cradling a slimey sucker in my hand, two thoughts then came suddenly pinging into my brain. The first being that I should really invest in a decent lawnmower that saves me the job of bending over and my poor back. And the second? Well of course I started wondering what it would be like to eat them. The snails that is.

You may or may not know this but the petis gris or escargot that gets served up in French bistros across France and the rest of the world is none other than your regular Helix aspersa. That's the common brown snail to you and me and I've often thought about gathering some to cook at home so this seemed like a marvelous opportunity. I've garnered some information from the internets and the whole process looks to be quite simple. The most important thing to do is to make sure you purge* them and in particular make sure that they haven't ingested any pesticides. If they have taken anything toxic on board they will die within a day after collection which seems to be an easy indicator. If they don't die then they will happily survive on a diet of water which will clean their systems out and after four days will be ready to cook and eat. However you can also carry on feeding them on herbs and cornmeal for up to two weeks to fatten them up. You then put them on a water diet for two days for a final purge. This is what I have read anyway.

At the moment I've got a dozen Brians tucked away in a large Tupperware box (with air holes) in the shed, lounging around on a bed of lettuce and water. I'm not entirely sure what route to go yet, the four day liquid diet or the 2 week super sizing but when I had one last peek before leaving for work, at least 4 of the blighters were engaged in some kind of carnal activity. I think they know the end is near and making the best use of their love darts in an orgiastic frenzy. Well you would wouldn't you if the world was nigh. I shall let you know what I do with them but if in the meantime anyone has any tips or words of wisdom, I shall be very grateful.


A dozen escargot s'il vous plait

Brian #1

Brian and chums are gonna get it


*purge = make sure they have a good ol' crap

16 comments:

meemalee said...

Super-size those mothers.

I'm fairly certain Browners reared his own snails if you want tips, though I may have imagined that.

Jonathan said...

Awesome stuff Mr Food Urchin. I wish I had given this a go meemalee, but FU has beaten me to it! Looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Kavey said...

Ha haa, awesomeness.
I only go down the garden to eat worms.

ScottCanCook said...

Big Sweary Ramsey did this on the f-word a few years ago. Having enough to feed Paris on my allotment I tried it myself and got good results.

I fed my snails fennel and carrots. Carrots are creat because you can see when they are eating your feed.

You can really taste the fennel when you cook them.

Enjoy!

EssexGourmet said...

Oh, I feel like joining the snail liberation front... Poor Brians'.

I have read that you should at least put the snails in the freezer or fridge for an hour or two before cooking, in much the same way as a crab or lobster, rendering them in a kind of sleep mode prior to being boiled to death. ;)

Hats off for giving this a go FU! Would love to see a Valencian Paella with Rabbit & Snail on your mrnu...

Niamh said...

Fantastic! I have thought about doing this but I hate snails so very much I wouldn't want them in my house. I like to eat them of course.

Feeling someone should purge me like a snail at the moment!

Will be watching the progress of The Great Brian Massacre.

The Grubworm said...

I wanted to make some crack on the brian's trust, but thought the better of it. If, according to ScottCanCook, they taste of what you feed them, then i would definitely go down the suckling pig route, or maybe truffles and caviar... Delicious. I do love a snail.

Catalan Cooking said...

You can feed them rosemary like Valencians do to make paella.

Food Urchin said...

Meemalee - I is going to become a feeder, feed....feeeed.....FEEEEED

Mr Browners - thank you dear food adventurer, I shall keep you posted

Kavey - Not forgetting slugs, never forget the slugs

ScottCanCook - phew some reassurance from someone who has done this before, may well try the fennel

EssexGourmet - it was you who spurned me on many months ago now, dunno about the freezer treatment though, I mean really?

Niamh - tell me about it, purge purge purge, christ knows what crap is circulating in my system

The Grubworm - snails eating pigs is straight out of a horror movie, I won't entertain the idea, unless...

Catalan Cooking - I am very much toying with the idea of an authentic paella, I shall have to get a recipe from you.

The Ample Cook said...

Brilliant effort - well done.

Hope you're going to make a pair of earrings ou of the shells for Mrs FU :)

Just going to go and check and see if Tiny has a love dart.

Food Urchin said...

The Ample Cook - Shh, the shell earings are going to be a Christmas present, she'll be overjoyed

Lost in the Larder said...

This is brilliant! Never really thought about doing it myself but you have definitely inspired me to have a go soon. Fantastic post.

Paul said...

I must be soft... this has actually put me off my lunch, I hate escargot. It's an escarNO for me :D

Orce Serrano Hams said...

"make sure they have a good ol' crap"

ROFL Aye, you don't em gritty, BAH!

Helen said...

I cannot wait to hear the outcome of this experiment. I don't blame them for getting frisky. Not much else doing in that tub is there?

Food Urchin said...

Lost in the Larder - you should do it, very easy! er have yet to cook the things though

Paul - aye, ya soft lad ye

Orce - funny the stuff you feed them comes out the same colour the other end....you didn't need to know that.

Helen - I thought about putting a hamster wheel in there but they seem quite happy to eat and shag all day