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Boris_A

Snails in Italy.

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As a small addition for people curious about snails outside Spain or France:

the small Piedmontese town Cherasco near Bra and Alba is something like the Italian capital of snail lovers. Recommended: "La Rosa Rossa" and "La Luamca".


Edited by Boris_A (log)

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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The post that originated this thread, from Boris_A, has been extracted from a recent thread on snails in the Spain & Portugal's forum.

We believe that this is the proper place for this post, which hopefully will generate some good information about the place that snails had and have in Italian cooking.

I'm quite intrigued whether they have a prominent place in any of Italy's regional cuisines. Centuries ago, Romans were the pioneers of industrial breeding of snails in Europe, probably spreading their consume among France, Spain and other places in Europe.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Even the rather chavinist Larousse Gastronomique credits a Roman by the name of Fluvis Lupinus as the discoverer of the art of fattening snails. I don't know that he found a way of "force-feeding" them, but at least there have been no animal rights activists protesting the fattening of snails to the best of my knowledge. Snails are neither a sympathetic nor appetizing creature to many in the U.S. I don't really recall seeing them on menus in Italy in my rather limited travels. They are, or used to be, very common in France and common enough, at least in some parts of, Spain.


Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Bux,

snails are eaten in Italy but I agree with you about their absence from most menus. I have read an article about snail farming in Italy some time ago, which I'll have to find for more exact info. What I remember is that Italy's production is not enough to cover the yearly consumption, so quite a bit is imported from France and Spain. A part of what is consumed is often picked in the wild.

I also think snail seldom appear on menus of more up-scale places since they're pretty much considered street or country fare. I know they're consumed in quite a few places in Southern and Central Italy. I'm sure there's others on the forum who can fill us on the details for regions like Sicily, Puglia and Latium. My personal knowledge is limited to one of the trademark recipes of the island of Ischia off the Neapolitan coast. I even have an approximate recipe somewhere. As soon as I find it I'll describe the dish in more detail.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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Alberto,

I've also heard that France no longer produces enough snails to satisfy domestic consumption and has to import them although I don't think the French eat as many snails as they used to. Then again, I wonder if they ever ate as many as anglophones assumed they did. As a child, I thought the French had a daily diet of snails and frog's legs. Then again I assumed everyone in Italy had meatballs and spaghetti for dinner. We can be quite provincial in America.

Prepared food can be divided into may categories, but three of them might be--what's found in an expensive restaurant, what's found in a small inexpensive neighborhood restaurant and what's found in homes. Of course there's a lot of overlap, but many things are commonly found in one of those categories or maybe two. I've eaten in as many neighborhood restaurants as upscale ones, but it's also possible I'd miss things on a menu because of my very limited vocabulary. My wife speaks a bit of Italian, but it's also possible that her vocabulary doesn't have the word for snail in it. As a traveler, if I can read half the menu, I feel that's enough for me to choose from and I'm not going to harass a waiter to translate every item. That's one of the reasons I like to visit markets when I travel in Europe, especially fish markets. I can learn the names of things I can later order in a restaurant.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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As a child, I thought the French had a daily diet of snails and frog's legs. Then again I assumed everyone in Italy had meatballs and spaghetti for dinner. We can be quite provincial in America.

Not only in America, I assure you. Many of my Italian friends believe Americans only eat hamburgers and hot dogs all day. And they think grilling is barbecuing :wacko: . It's hard to fight stereotypes when you never experienced life in a foreign country on your own skin. Or better: on your own tongue.

I've eaten in as many neighborhood restaurants as upscale ones, but it's also possible I'd miss things on a menu because of my very limited vocabulary. My wife speaks a bit of Italian, but it's also possible that her vocabulary doesn't have the word for snail in it.

There might be another reason for this. In Naples and surroundings snails, eaten in a sort of tomato based soup, are prepared only in some times of the year, like Easter. As far as I know that's also true of other places around Italy. Maybe you just missed the right moment.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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I can only speak for Puglia. It's very common food.

We eat basically two kinds of snails: the one I like better is what we call "lumache con la panna", or patedde (patelle) con la panna: snails with cream. I am referring to Helix aperta. The panna refers to the skin they form when they hybernate, in the summer because it's too hot, or in the winter. So, people will just dig under the soil, about 10-15 cm, to find them. They don't need a preliminary treatment, they are bleanched just to clean from outside dirt, the opening get broken and they are rinsed with water and salt. Usually they are cooked in a spicy stew or simply grilled and dressed with oregano, salt, garlic and oil. In this case, they are put on the grill in one of those perforated pot used for chestnuts.

If they were not hyberneted, but still patedde they will need a treatment but shorter then other snails. In a pot with very fine breadcrumbs for 2 days.

In the Murgia, at least the one I am from, they are called patedde (also the sea one, the murici), instead in Salento they are called munaciddhe (little nuns).

There is also a festival della monaceddha in Cannule (Lecce) during August.

We also use the common snail (cuzzedde or cozzedde) white and brown, after the rain, people will go and seek for them in the fields, but they required a longer treatment of a week. They usually are bleanched before beeing cooked still on the grill or in the sauce.

I like the patelle con la panna, in a spicy ragu' with laurel leaves, but I know of people marinating them and eating raw.


Edited by Franci (log)

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I can only speak for Puglia. It's very common food.

We eat basically two kinds of snails: the one I like better is what we call "lumache con la panna", or patedde (patelle) con la panna: snails with cream. I am referring to Helix aperta. The panna refers to the skin they form when they hybernate, in the summer because it's too hot, or in the winter. So, people will just dig under the soil, about 10-15 cm, to find them. They don't need a preliminary treatment, they are bleanched just to clean from outside dirt, the opening get broken and they are rinsed with water and salt.

Interesting. I suppose that the assumption made here to avoid the preliminary treatment is that they've already done a natural fasting.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Cherasco snails are of a rare and wonderful quality, and always served fresh. I believe that snails are local only to a few locations in Italy. Interestingly, Cherasco was Napoleon's HQ when he took Italy, which may have much to do with the snail mystique.


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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Bill, what do you mean with "fresh"?


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Last week I had "Spedini' dei Lumache" in a restaurant in Montefalco (Umbria). They were very simply grilled and served on a skewer. There must have been 50 of them on the plate, and they were tiny and excellent!

On our way to Montefalco there was a town advertising a "Sagra de Lumache", I want to say it was the town of Cantolupe, but I'm not sure. Seems as if the Umbrians have clued into these tasty creatures.

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After googling a bit with "lumache" etc., there can be found 12 Italian towns claiming to be a "snail town":

here:

... Cherasco (Cuneo), Borgo San Dalmazzo (Cuneo), Molini di Triora (Imperia), Sant'Andrea di Badia Calavena (Verona), Bobbio (Piacenza), Zocca (Modena), Nonantola (Modena), Crespadoro (Vicenza) e Cantalupo di Bevagna (Perugia), Cannole (Lecce), Quero ...Verrazze ...Gesico

the latter three in Sardegna, I assume

Here they talk about Borgo San Dalmazzo having a several century old relation to snails and a yearly snail market in December.


Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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I have a few copies of the Italian Snail farmers gazette, but actually I have never seen snails on a menu in Italy come to think of it. Curious, as I have certainly eaten sea snails in Italy. Too identifiable with the French maybe?

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Too identifiable with the French maybe?

I think only a foreign will think so...this would never cross the mind of an Italian.

Maybe it's just considered home food or cibo da trattoria and once in a while, like in the last decade, with the rediscovery of “cucina povera”, some fancy restaurant would put on their menu.

In my area, we don't buy snails in the stores...rather go and look for them ourself, or someone would sell them in front of they home door, or someone would sell on the side of the state streets (as for mushrooms, wild asparagus, etc.)

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In my area, we don't buy snails in the stores...rather go and look for them ourself, or someone would sell them in front of they home door, or someone would sell on the side of the state streets (as for mushrooms, wild asparagus, etc.)

Ciao Franci!

Would you mind explaining what part of Italy you are living in?

How would you prepare the snails at home?

Grazie!!

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In my area, we don't buy snails in the stores

same thing in piedmont as in puglia

if you want snails you for a walk in the country and find them..

or just buy it on side of the state street (called like this statale seems really a big one!!!)

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i have to agree with vesnucia and franci - same holds in sicily as well. (and for that matter cyprus as well - where people also eat them a lot but you don't find them in restaurants). However, recently in Ragusa a snail farm has opened. I haven't had time to investigate whether the consumption is local or for export but it might be a si}

if things changing and perhaps snail demand in Italy is on the increase :-)

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Too identifiable with the French maybe?

I think only a foreign will think so...this would never cross the mind of an Italian.

Maybe it's just considered home food or cibo da trattoria and once in a while, like in the last decade, with the rediscovery of “cucina povera”, some fancy restaurant would put on their menu.

In my area, we don't buy snails in the stores...rather go and look for them ourself, or someone would sell them in front of they home door, or someone would sell on the side of the state streets (as for mushrooms, wild asparagus, etc.)

Franci I am most definately a straniero, no offence was intended. What part of Italy are you in? For all their mushroom gathering, shooting of game and collecting of wild greens I haven't heard any of my Italian friends (in Chianti) collecting snails, so this is very interesting, What type of snails are they?

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I am from a small town, Crispiano, between Taranto and Martina Franca.

, I don't know the scientific name of the common snails we eat, I am trying to locate a picture (they are fairly small in white and brownish circles).

Instead the "lumache con la panna", I am sure, are the helix aperta.

Hathor, do you want a precise recipe? Tomorrow my father is coming to visit from Italy (now I live in NYC), I will ask him the exact procedure and other info I can gather on the subject.

bye

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I am from a small town, Crispiano, between Taranto and Martina Franca.

, I don't know the scientific name of the common snails we eat, I am trying to locate a picture (they are fairly small in white and brownish circles).

Instead the "lumache con la panna", I am sure, are the helix aperta.

Hathor, do you want a precise recipe? Tomorrow my father is coming to visit from Italy (now I live in NYC), I will ask him the exact procedure and other info I can gather on the subject.

bye

Yes! I would love a recipe if your father wouldn't mind! I don't really understand how you shell and clean those little guys as well as wanting some serving suggestions.

I'm also in NYC part time, and part time in Umbria.

Grazie mille!!

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Thanks, Bill: that possibility crossed my mind long after I posted my thread. It's a pity not to take advantage of a great and I'd say readily available product. Lack of demand, probably.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Bux,

snails are eaten in Italy but I agree with you about their absence from most menus. I have read an article about snail farming in Italy some time ago, which I'll have to find for more exact info. What I remember is that Italy's production is not enough to cover the yearly consumption, so quite a bit is imported from France and Spain. A part of what is consumed is often picked in the wild.

For what it is worth, "Il Pescatore" in Canneto had a snail soup on the menu a few years ago. As a matter of fact, there is a recipe in their cookbook, "La cucina di Antonio e Nadia Santini" for Snail and Porcini soup with farfalle pasta.

Snails definitively belong to many Italian regions' culinary heritage. The reason for the lack of snail dishes in restaurants might be due to the fact that they do generally take time to get ready and that demand is probably not very high contrary to Burgundy where you are expected to order snails if they are on the menu. In any case, cookbooks seem to list plenty of options. For example, "Ricette di Osterie d' Italia", slow food's recipe book lists four recipes: one from Piedmont, one from Veneto, one from Friuli and one from Campania. Finally, Anna Gosetti della Salda's book "Le ricette regionali italiane" which is one of the most prestigious books on regional cuisine lists 10 recipes. In contrast, the Petit Larousse de la Cuisine, the only comparable recipe book for France I have, lists only three recipes.

Francesco

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