An inherent part of French cuisine, escargots are one specialty of France’s Burgundy region that you can’t leave the country without having tasted. And to be fair, before you can pass judgement on whether you do or do not like snails, you actually have to try them first.
If you are in Burgundy then you simply must enjoy your snails à la bourguignonne. Snails served in their shells are usually flavoured according to the region in which they are prepared and à la bourguignonne is with butter delicately flavoured with garlic, shallots, and parsley.
Snails can be tricky if you’re not entirely comfortable with the tools you need to get these tasty molluscs from the plate to your mouth. Let’s get familiar:
- Escargot dishes typically have high edges and either six or 12 indentations to keeps the snail shells in their place.
- The tongs are for holding the snails in place, not for crushing the shells, so know your own strength when you’re using one hand to hold the tongs and the other to pry the slippery snail from its hiding place.
- Don’t let that beautiful butter go to waste! Savour every last drop by soaking it up with soft chunks of bread.
- As a product of Burgundy, Escargots de Bourgogne naturally pair well with wine from the region. Some recommendations: a dry white Bourgogne-Aligoté or a Marsannay rosé.
The region of Burgundy is well-known for its wines and visits to the vineyards can be made on foot, by bicycle, and for a truly decadent experience – by boat. The Grands Vins Wine Road, for example, meanders over 100 kilometres and combines the Maranges, Couchois, and Côte Chalonnaise wine areas.
In the Maranges you can ascend Mont de Rome (545 metres) to enjoy the view, or for the more adventurous rock climbers, scale its sheer cliffs. The commune of Couches hosts a jazz festival in early July and in early August, la Ronde du Couchoi takes place, with wine cellars open to the public.
As beautiful as Burgundy is, and as much as you will enjoy the region’s wine and its snails, à la bourguignonne is not the only way to eat them. If that just isn’t your thing, don’t be afraid to try them in a fricassee, fried with mushrooms, or skewered and grilled for a crunchy exterior and slightly chewy interior.
One way or another, you can learn to love snails.