Etiquette & superstition: snail juice

Snail juice. This is going to be a good one, isn’t it? The superstition tip comes from the excellent blog Time Travel Kitchen, where a nice lady named Jana finds recipes from very old cookery books and tries them out. It should be noted that she did not try this particular recipe.

ETIQUETTE: You may find yourself in front of a plate of snails at a bar or restaurant one fine day. You may also find yourself provided with some unusual utensils in order to navigate this plate of snails. If you find yourself wondering what you should do with all of these things, read on.

Take the things that look like tongs in one hand; these are indeed tongs, but they are called snail grippers. Pick up a snail shell with the snail gripper just like you think you would do, and then take the funny little fork they gave you and fish the snail out of the shell and eat it up. The snail, not the shell. If nobody gives you a snail gripper, don’t fret. Just pick up the shell with your napkin. You’ll want to use a napkin because the shell is filled with hot garlicky melted butter, and that hot garlicky melted butter doesn’t always stay in the shell.

Speaking of which, what do you do with all that leftover garlicky melted butter? The answer is: there is no such thing as leftover garlicky melted butter. Don’t be a fool. When it has cooled down a bit, take that shell and drink the stuff up. Don’t slurp. If you’re feeling fancy, you can pour the juice out onto your plate and dip bits of bread into it.

SUPERSTITION: You say you have tuberculosis? Oh dear. You should make yourself up a batch of snail water right quick. Here’s the recipe:

“Take a Peck of Snails with the Shells on their Backs, have in a readiness a good fire of Charcoal well kindled, make a hole in the midst of the fire, and cast your Snails into the fire, renew your fire till the Snails are well rosted, then rub them with a clean Cloth, till you have rubbed off all the green which will come off.

“Then bruise them in a Mortar, shells and all, then take Clary, Celandine, Burrage,  Scabious, Bugloss, five leav’d Grass, and if you find your self hot, put in some Wood-Sorrel, of every one of these one handful, with five tops of Angelica.

“These Herbs being all bruised in a Mortar, put them in a sweet earthen Pot with five quarts of white Wine, and two quarts of Ale, steep them all night; then put them into an Alembeck, let the herbs be in the bottom of the Pot, and the Snails upon the Herbs, and upon the Snails put a Pint of Earth-worms slit and clean washed in white Wine, and put
upon them four ounces of Anniseeds or Fennel-seeds well bruised, and five great handfuls of Rosemary Flowers well picked, two or three Races of Turmerick thin sliced, Harts-horn and Ivory, of each four ounces, well steeped in a quart of white Wine till it be like a Jelly, then draw it forth with care.”

Photo by Mark Bridge on Flickr

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