August 28, 2005

Slow Food... Slow Down

The symbol of Slow Food Movement is the snail.

Today as we were driving down the our village, Certaldo, to have our Sunday morning cappuccino, pastry and buy the paper, we saw quite a few cars parked along the country road.

Next week, hunting season starts so there were hunters, without their guns, out with their dogs, looking around. There were also lots of men and women armed with plastic bags.

In Italy, they have some wonderful sayings.
Chickens when they eat, have their heads down and butts up... Buco Pilonzeri, so here were all these people..
buco pilonzeri, gathering something!

These are my kind of hunters. I always stop to see what they are foraging for;often wild asparagus, dandelion greens, nettle or other unknown local delicacies.

Last night we had a huge rain storm and todays gift from nature... snails!

I loved snails, until one day many years ago when I had just arrived in Italy, a friend decided to throw a Snail Pot Luck dinner, he supplied the snails from his country house, already purged and ready to cook.

I heated up some salted water and threw my snails in... AHHHHHHH they tried to escape!
I threw the lid on the pan and left!
When they were done, I removed them from the shells, sauteed them in garlic and olive oil, pureed them and rolled the paste up in blanched spinach leaves. How French of me!

When we arrived at the party, the table was filled with everyone's creations.
I overheard my friend saying that he didn't think my snails were cooked enough, I looked over and there was a live snail crawling over my dish!

I lost my appetite.

I did eat snails again until visiting my friend Kate near Agen in France.
She took us on her barge to a snail festival down the river, it was fabulous.
My favorite version was cooked in a large paella pan. The snails were stewed in a fabulous rich beefy ragu.

In London, I had a great snail-less version of snails!
Using the clay dish that snails are usually served in, they sauteed mussels in garlic and butter, topped with breadcrumbs and baked! Much nicer.

Slow down... your movin' too fast.
Come to tuscany and slow down and sip the wine, savor a coffee, or join someone in the field with your buco pilonzeri!


  1. That picture of a snail on your plate is too spooky:) I've never tried snails, and must admit that I don't even feel tempted. Spent hours as a child collecting snails from the garden, so they wouldn't destroy my Mum's flowers and plants, and they were always extremely yikky and slimy...
    Nice story though - esp the "cooked" snail that tried to escape your plate:)

  2. I let my snails eat my plants... rather than me eating them!

    Of course I only put in my first tomato plants this year, and they haven't touched them.

  3. Anonymous10:09 PM

    Diva -- wonderful story - and your usual great photography. I will admit my stomach did a little flip-flop when you mentioned the snails trying to escape from the pot.

    As for eating them -- I've only had the classic snails in butter, garlic & paarsley --and you could serve me rubber bands that way and I'd be a happy camper.

    Thanks for your ongoing snapshots of life in Italy.

    Judy (Motherjudy)

  4. Garlic and Butter are the best!!!!

    That's why the mussels are a great substitute..
    I think a snail is a muscle anyway!

  5. As the former gardener, I can say the only good one that ain't crawling!

  6. David - I must agree. And those snails I had to pick off the plants never ever ended up anywhere near our kitchen:) Just to make that clear..

  7. I have nothing good to say about snails except that my neighbor's hens just love them. I toss them over the fence, since their plot has been picked clean.
    I always cooked them and never eat them.
    The chickens and I have a deal. I don't eat their stuff and in return they let me have eggs.
    I believe it is the garlicky butter people like, so put something appealing in it!
    David, I assume you are of the Paris blog? If so, then I really like it. I was chattering away about it trans-Atlantically Sunday. My father's origins are Bretagne but we never ate any of those interesting things, just sort of general Frenchie stuff.

  8. Checchifo 'a lumaca cruda!!! 8-6~

    Snails are delicious, and this is said by one who woiuld not even touch tripe with a fork. But my favorite are those tiny sea snails... It takes ages to eat them, they are so tiny, not much bigger than a jelly bean, but wonderful.

  9. Elisabetta9:27 PM

    Leapin' lumache, Judy! As I would have suspected, you are having a great time at your blogfesta!

    Elisabetta in Umbria

  10. Elizabetta! We do meet in the strangest places! I hear there is a festa in Umbertide Saturday?
    If I go, will I see you?
    Anyway, it is September today. Your vacation is over, Diva-- get blogging. Mine too, taken for a period of mourning.

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