How does snail taste

Taste snails

Snails are currently mostly served as a delicacy. However, they used to be an important food for all walks of life. Why was that and could the popularity of the Roman snail on the plate change again?

The beginnings of the snail as a food
Even the two-legged primacy, the Homo erectus, was the first to start eating animal protein in the form of insects, mussels, crustaceans and snails. Snails were later consumed in ancient Rome, for example. Evidence of this can be found in the recipes and breeding instructions from Marcus Gaius Apicius. From there, snail breeding spread across the Alpine region in Europe.

The Roman snail as a fasting food
In earlier times, meat was considered to promote pleasure. Since the monks had to remain chaste, they had to fast 150 days a year, that is, to eat one meat. In circumventing these fasting rules, the monks showed themselves to be creative, so they added snails to the water. Thus, they were not considered meat and could also be consumed during Lent.

Vienna as a snail metropolis
In old Vienna in the 18th century, snails were popular in all walks of life. Roman snails were traded on the Viennese snail market. The "Schneckenweiber" offered them as "Viennese oysters" in different versions, salty and sweet.

Make snails ready to cook
Roman snails are under species protection and may no longer be collected in the wild. Snails from the breeder (e.g. Wiener Schneckenmanufaktur Gugumuck) are offered for consumption. The snails are first "harvested" and first vent their intestines in boxes. In doing so, they lapse into rigidity, so they sleep soundly. Processed according to EU guidelines, they are blanched in boiling water for 5 minutes in this state. Consumption is therefore considered to be more ethical than that of mammals.

Then you take the snail meat out of the house and separate it from the intestinal sac. The Snail liver is considered a special delicacy, it has the shape of a small snail. The snail meat is cooked in a brew and can then be processed further. / Julia Schenk

What is snail caviar?
Snail caviar is the eggs of the snail. They are also called snail pearls. These are also offered as a special delicacy.

Snails as sustainable slow food
According to Andreas Gugumuck from the Wiener Schneckenmanufaktur, snails are a Future Food. They are bred as part of environmentally friendly, sustainable agriculture and grow up in a more resource-saving way than with conventional meat production. For the production of 1 kg of muscle meat from snails, 85% less feed is required than for cattle, according to him. The area used for this is smaller, as is the water consumption.

Snails contain a lot of protein, but also vitamin B, minerals and trace elements. They have a consistency between mussel and squid and taste like veal with a slightly earthy and nutty note.

How do you eat snails?
If snails are served in the snail shell, a special snail fork should be served with which the meat can be taken out of the house. There are separate snail pans with recesses, in each of which a single snail is placed. This is especially true for the classic dish of snails with herb butter. Increasingly, however, snails are also served without a snail shell. They can be prepared in many ways, both savory and sweet.

Here are some snail recipes to try.
There is even more information about snails here.

We were guests at the Viennese snail manufacturer Gugumuck. What we there about snails and Urban farming you can read here.

Author: Iris Kienböck /