Whilst in Switzerland in January I ate, a lot. My friend’s partner is a bit of a foodie. He likes nothing better than cooking up a storm of an evening, especially when they have visitors.
He picked me up from the airport and we went straight from one country to another by driving the 5 minutes from Geneva airport into France so we could go to the supermarket. I am always happy to visit a French supermarket, in fact any supermarket that isn’t in Israel is a pleasure (you may remember my distaste for Israeli supermarkets from this post). French supermarkets are just a joy to behold. They sell billions of delicious cheeses, ready made bouillabaisse in glass bottles, so so many creamy individual dessert pots and the wine, well the wine – it’s affordable and most of it good including the stuff in a box. I was happy to see Vin de Pays de Laude which was the cheap wine of choice for me and my pals back in the day when we lived in France.
Stefan, my friend’s partner is the best person to go shopping with if a) you have a desire to eat anything unusual or try something new and b) if you have loads of time, patience and no shopping list. To say he is a sporadic shopper is an understatement. I remembered from my last visit that popping to the shop for milk can turn into a half hour excursion resulting in a trolley full of stuff you don’t really need. Happy to go along with what ever as I was sans enfants and in a foreign country I merrily trawled the aisles whilst he filled the trolley with delicacies for my 4 day visit. I eventually made it back to Switzerland and my friend clutching bacon flavoured snacks (can’t get those in Israel) and a box of ready made fondue – yum.
The first night I tucked into snails and have been regaling my childers about this ever since. I must admit I have never seen the point of eating snails. They basically don’t taste of much and you could easily eat garlicky buttery sauce with a piece of bread and get the same affect albeit without the shells. Still, when in Rome. My childer’s screams of disgust never cease to amuse me. ‘what, you ate real snails?’ ‘did you eat the shells?’ and the best ‘ what for?’ – good question.
I have eaten snails a few times before in my former life when I went to Michelin starred restaurants and travelled business class. On one occasion I took my Mum to the restaurant where hubby was the pastry chef (The Providores in London – what a great great restaurant) and she ate snails. I am not sure she enjoyed them but she was very proud of herself. I have also eaten kangaroo and alligator, caviar and frogs legs but nothing screams euughh like snails.
We don’t see many snails (the non vacuum packed variety) in Israel as it very rarely rains but when it does they come out in their thousands and my childer’s love them. A couple of days ago whilst emptying number 1 son’s drawer at pre-school I found a tupperware box with holes punched in the top and a poor lone snail swishing around in a puddle of watery grass, I dread to think how long it had been there.
We always have a snail farm when the rain comes. A snail farm for ye unenlightened few is a cardboard box with a saucer of water and handfuls of grass and a cabbage leaf tossed in for good measure. There are usually around 5 snails at its inception and 1 hour later there could be 1, if we’re lucky. They aren’t fond of the farm. Tears and ‘rescue’ missions follow.
This morning after the 20 minute walk to travel less than quarter of a mile to the nursery the twins came upon a ‘baby’ snail (he was quite small) and they both sat next to him and stroked him. ‘He’s so sweet’, ‘ hello little snaily’ (but in Hebrew). At that point, already late, I tried to douse the flames (causing the smoke to come out of my ears) with the puddle they were all but sitting in and dragged them away with promises that we’d see him again later. I then asked them if they’d like to eat him for dinner. Does that make me cruel?