Frogs and snails: try this at home? | Bleader

Frogs and snails: try this at home?

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Indulging in some foliage inimical to humans?
  • duchessoftea via Flickr
  • Into a covered basket with you, Gastropoda!
Reviewing Dale Levitski's "midwestern bistro" Frog N Snail this week, Mike Sula steered clear of its namesake dish, described on the current menu as "frog n snail, kale, leeks, green peppercorn ragout." For some reason, this brought back a time years ago when, as a broke undergraduate with nothing in the fridge but a few shriveled scallions, I picked up the copy of Joy of Cooking I'd been given for my high school graduation and tried to distract myself.

There I learned that

when [snails] feed in late spring and summer, they may indulge in some foliage inimical to humans and, if used during this period, must be placed in a covered basket in a cool place and starved for 48 hours.

Clearly, snails are a delicacy requiring advance preparation:

For the next ten days to two weeks, feed them on lettuce leaves, removing the old leaves and furnishing new ones every few days. Then, in any season, scrub until all slime is removed.

After you've repeatedly soaked and rinsed the mollusks,

Discard any snails whose heads have not by this time popped out of their shells. Drain. Cover with boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, cool and remove the snails from shells with an oyster fork. Hold the upper part of the snail with the thumb and forefinger and score the lower part of the body to pull out the swollen intestinal tube. Discard it.

Why Joy and its authors, Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, aren't given more credit for anticipating local, seasonal, snout-to-tail, and other culinary trends of the last ten-plus years, I'll never know. They at least deserve some appreciation for their sang-froid. Take their advice on the preparation of frog legs:

Separate and wash the legs in cold water. Begin at the top and strip off the skin like a glove. Through an experiment with a twitching frog leg, Galvani discovered the electric current that bears his name. Should you prefer keeping your kitchen and your scientific activities separate and distinct, chill the frog legs before skinning.

Sauteeing them with hazelnuts is optional.

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