Friday, May 30, 2008


Photographs J.G.

“Look how he cries for help.”

“The little mouth still open in desperate need for fresh air.”

“I tell you, death is cruel to the animals we eat. Death is even crueler to snails. We have to cook them slowly, so they get out of the shells while the water warms up and we have no trouble in picking them with a toothpick when they are ready.”

“The same with the big ones?”

“Caracoletas, you mean? Those ones have a trick. You grill them in a metal sheet and see them suffer in direct. Spread salt over the sheet, so they avoid turning themselves on it, and they cook inside their own shell. They contort desperately and while doing so they get out. You just have to make sure they don’t turn over. Then prepare the sauce, usually very fat and spicy. Are you still interested?”

“I’m afraid of nothing!”

“Since you’re a brave sailor I tell you another way of grilling caracoletas somebody told me once. I don’t know if it works, but since you’re afraid of nothing maybe one day you’ll find out. Prepare a coal fire and when it’s ready, put the caracoletas gently over the coals, shell down. Then put a cold metal sheet over them. The artist that told me this said it was the best way, because then they stick to the sheet trying to escape and they cook evenly on both sides. What? Are you loosing your appetite?”

“I may give up the snails, after all.”

“What? Do you think lobsters and shrimp feel better, when they are being cooked alive? Are you ready to give them up too? I tell you what is, for me, the best way of doing the little snails we find in the south of Portugal. Cook them in water with salt slowly, as I told you, for around half an hour or a little more. Some time before they are ready join sticks of oregano. Not the leaves, they give a sour taste to the snails, just the sticks. Some people also use piri-piri, other ones prefer pepper. Other way of doing them is with olive oil, garlic, onion, laurel, oregano, pepper and/or piri-piri. Some people even use bacon! Barbarians!”


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