Wednesday, August 3, 2011

L' Escargot, S'il Vous Plait.

I love French food. I have yet to meet a French dish that I did not like. Which is why I had always hesitated to try the escargot. I did not want my bubble burst. I wanted to stay in my happy comfort zone of loving all things French, for if I didn't try it, I couldn't possibly dislike it.

But deep down, with that lurking sense of adventure, I had to know how it tasted. Each time I would see it on the menu, I would make note of it in my head, that it was something that needed to be crossed off the bucket list. But not this time.... The courage would rise and dissipate.

The latest time I saw it on the appetizer menu, I mentioned it to Stephen.

"They have escargot here," I casually remarked.

"Oh, really? Would you like to order it?" he asked.

"I've never had it, but I'm not sure I would like the texture. I don't like slimy things in my mouth or otherwise."

"Well, I'm going to order it and you can try it if you want."

Which, essentially, was his way of not-so-subtly telling me I would be trying it that night, since he knows if it is placed on the table, I will muster up the courage to consume a bite. It's a dare. And I will not turn that down.

As we await the arrival of the dish, I get a little anxious sitting in my chair. Have I ever been this nervous to try a food before?

It comes arranged in a circle of six little pods each containing one escargot hidden in melted butter, garlic, and herbs. A tiny double-pronged fork is placed before me. Stephen reaches for his and then, again, I'm not sure I want to.

I bide some time talking about the lemon wedge, which is probably just an ornament, but question whether it is to be used in consumption of the escargot. Finally, Stephen has had enough of this dilly-dallying; he grabs his fork and gets ready to dive into the pod. Not wanting to miss out, I quickly scoop mine up and get ready to stab at whatever is hidden beneath the liquid.

I'm surprised by the greyish-brown blob which surfaces, certainly not pretty by any means. I pop it into my mouth swiftly, without a lot of extra thought. The garlic-butter mixure they have been bathing in is delightful. The texture of the escargot isn't as horrible as I thought. Perhaps the slime is dried out of them prior to cooking. Still, a bit on the rubbery side; it is not my favorite feeling when I'm eating something.

I eat my share, happy to partake in this gourmet French fare.  I might even venture to try them again. (Actually, I was researching ways of cooking them oneself: There are even instructions on how to harvest them. I don't know if I'll go that far....)

Although, I do wonder how the French ever got la grande idée to cook up the insects eating the leaves in their gardens.  Perhaps it was form of punishment....execution for their bad behavior.

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