Thursday, 31 December 2009

Cold steel and hot snails

Food is rarely far from the hearts, thoughts and dinner tables of the French and those ex-pats, like myself, who have chosen to make the culinary centre of the universe their home. During this season of festivities, the spotlight shines even more brightly on all things gastronomic with supermarkets, marche de noel and the humble kitchens of all and sundry, churning out amazing offerings: pate de foie gras; huitres by the bucket load; tantalising delicacies; wild boar; deer; duck and, surprisingly, kangaroo! The French have been unfairly criticised, I believe, for food which can seem too exclusive - not fare for the common man. Take tackling a snail for instance, a task that is not as easy as one would assume. Whilst dining with friends recently, Mark and I were warned of the dangers that could be faced when approaching 'les escargots'. If, we were cautioned, we didn't take sufficient care to warm our cold steel forks before plunging them into the hearts (do snails have hearts?) of our snails whilst they languished in their sizzling butter baths, the snail could very well explode, spraying us with molten garlic oil and scarring us for life!! Forewarned is fore armed or, as we say here 'un homme averti en vaut deux' (literally: one forwarned arm is worth two men). Anyway, to prove French food is quite inclusive, we found snails that would appeal to the most fussy of eaters - chocolate ones of course!!

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