The French aren't the only ones who have figured out how to make 'land' (or would garden be a better term?) snails taste good. I have tasted this variety of snail previously in Rome, mainly because hubby is a big fan and they happen to be the featured ingredient in a dish specially prepared for the Festa of San Giovanni, the patron saint of our former neighborhood in Rome (Esquilino, home to Rome's first basilica, San Giovanni), and by chance also my hubby's birthday. Lucky him, guaranteed fireworks and snails for every Esquilino birthday!
In the past we did celebrate one such birthday San Giovanni style, eating this Roman snail dish in one of the neighborhood trattorias that prepare snails in a tomato sauce for the occasion. They were not all that bad, but I couldn't eat them like popcorn like hubby did and felt as if I had done my duty after eating half a dozen or so.
I had no idea Sicilians also partook in this delicacy. We came upon a trunk load full of squirming snails a few weeks ago in Acitrezza. Funny thing is, I recognized the trunk and the man selling the goods as he normally carries Tarrocco Sicilian oranges and I had purchased them from him before. This afternoon, however, the oranges had been replaced with these interesting creatures, accompanied by the sign posted above them--SNAILS, collected naturally, 8 Euros/kg.
Hubby was tempted to purchase some, but fortunately for me (I could not stomach seeing these poor creatures cooked alive!), we were leaving the next day for our long weekend in Rome and we wouldn't have time to prepare them. But I did find out that the Sicilian version of the dish differs from the Roman one as the snails are sauteed with oil, garlic, parsley and red pepper.
And again confirmed that toddler loves all kinds of animals, big and small!
For anyone curious to know more about eating snails in Sicily, I found an interesting link in Italian that gives preparation methods, recipes and other facts about snails (like they were hugely popular with the ancient Greek and Romans, come in three varieties and are very high in protein).