The inspiration behind #52 was a bit of a new theme in my life. Previously having never loved seafood in general, I went to Tulum, MX the second week of December (peak list item making time) and had a 4-day trip trying all types of different seafood - and loved it all. From there, I wanted to start trying everything. When thinking about the year ahead, I was trying to think about cultural foods to experience while traveling: snails or, the fancier French alternative, escargot, meaning "edible snail."
On our train ride from Paris to Amsterdam, I was searching the internet for escargot recommendations in Paris. Eating a snail was not something I want to be spontaneous about. The idea of bad or underwhelming escargot made me queasy. As you can probably guess, there was a lot of "world's best" claiming at restaurants throughout the city. Eventually, I decided the majority of reviews I was reading gave the nod to L'Escargot Montorgueil, and I felt confident that if you were going to throw it in your name, and house a giant golden snail above your restaurant, this was a 'delicacy' you weren't going to fuck up.
The morning of our first full day in the city we were mapping out the days' explorations, and based on that decision, saw L'Escargot was generally on the way. Might as well get as cultured as possible, as quickly as possible, so it was planned; #52 at lunchtime day 2. The walk over, longer than expected, gave me plenty of time to get psyched up about it, and I was PSYCHED. I don't often find myself feeling uncomfortable, but this, eating a snail, imagining the texture, the taste, the bite; I was definitely out of my comfort zone and was pumping with adrenaline because so.
When we arrived at the restaurant, there was a great two-seater high table in the front of the patio that had our name on it. When our server came over, eager to have the perfect first experience, I immediately told him,
"I'm here to cross off a bucket-list item and try Escargot in France. I want the most authentic experience, and I want your help because I don't know what the hell I'm doing."
He laughed at me, I'm sure I deserved it.
He and I went through the menu and decided it was most appropriate to go with the Traditional Snails: "Large Burgundy snails in garlic and parsley butter a venerated recipe since 1832". 186 years seemed like a long enough time for them to get the recipe right, I was all in. They came in 6-12-36 sail servings, both Andy and I agreed 6 was probably 5 more than I needed.
Both Andy and I preparing our cameras to document the moment and suddenly they. Had. Arrived. They were surprisingly unrecognizable, in the best way. Drowning in delicious parsley butter, the scent filling the surrounding air, remained in their shells which were almost cute (in the sickest I'm-about-to-eat-a-freaking-snail way).
It was game-time. I had mentally prepared myself all morning. I was no chicken, I was here to dominate these little mollusk's.
- Prongs to shell
- Fork into snail
- Snail into mouth
... Delicious. Unbelievable! Though I was conscious in the moment that anything soaked in garlic parsley butter would probably be pretty good, I was impressed. The snail, chewy, but not overly chewy. I looked at Andy and said,
"I'm going to eat all 6 of these."
Which I did, besides one, which was because I made Andy partake in this cultural experience with me and he agreed that they weren't.. bad, though he was set with the one.
Try Escargot in France was truly something I'm happy I did regardless if I ate 5 or just the 1. There's something about being open and fully immersing yourself into the traditions of a foreign culture that is rewarding anyway the snail falls from the shell.
#52: CHECK. Onward...
All my love,