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The Slimier the Better?

30 Oct

Whoever led people to believe that snails are a delicacy was either sadly mistaken or a damn good liar. Before I continue with my rant, I shall share my first point of reference with you :

Now, is it just me, or does this resemble some form of nuclear waste, rather than a form of food that can be consumed by human beings?  What you see here is something that even the Addams Family wouldn’t eat for dinner. Quite frankly, I think a Petri dish full of fungi looks more appetising.

This was my meal of choice last Monday night. Yes, ladies and gentleman,  I ventured to St. Tropez Bistro,  a small French restaurant in Century Village, Dubai, to eat snails for the first time. As you may have read in my previous blog entry, I have always been traumatised by the thought of eating these slimy creatures. So when my friend Dona mentioned that I should do it for my blog, my first reaction was ‘hell no,’ followed by ‘are you mad?’ However, in the spirit of trying new things (and giving you guys something to laugh at), I decided to step up and give it a go. Who knows, I thought to myself, I may even end up liking them.

I was also sadly mistaken.  Point of reference number two:

This either depicts revulsion in its purest form, or is proof that I deserve an Oscar.

When the dish first arrived at the table, I could only smell butter and garlic – two things I love and that generally work very well together. After all, garlic bread is one of the culinary world’s greatest inventions and features both heavily. So I started to think that perhaps I had been too quick to judge in the past and that I would actually end up enjoying them. And thankfully, I couldn’t really see that what I was about to eat were snails – firstly, it was dark, and secondly, the shells and tentacles were nowhere to be seen.

Then, I took the plunge and bit into one.

My mouth instantly turned into a battlefield of foul-tasting, microscopic soldiers that were setting up camp and drawing up war plans with one aim in mind: to destroy my taste buds. The only thing I can liken it to is eating rubber. Burning, rubber, at that. I chewed for what seemed like an eternity, swallowed, then gulped as much of my red wine as possible.

I still shudder at the thought.

Those of you who think I may have given up too easily can rest assured that I did try again one more time, however, I had been so scarred by the first experience that the second snail barely had the chance to brush against my traumatised taste buds before I swallowed the damn thing with a huge chug of wine.

So, while I am extremely happy that I have managed to cross another challenge off the list, I have to say that I will never try snails again. And if there’s one thing this experience has further confirmed to me, is something we Brits have believed for a very long time: the French, who gave us this delightful dish, are strange.

Sorry Nico, Dan et al.

Two down, 28 to go!

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Challenge 2 – Eat Snails – The Why

17 Oct

I have spent the last few days trying to decide what my next challenge should be. On Friday night, I came very close to spontaneously doing karaoke sober. However, I would be a liar if I were to say that I wasn’t mildly inebriated by the time I took to the stage and sang Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight,’ complete with chopsticks for the obligatory spot of air drumming. Yes, there was alcohol involved. And lots of it.

Therefore, I had to think of what I could complete over the next couple of weeks that wouldn’t cost too much money, seeing as I wasted the last of this month’s pay cheque on a dress I could not afford.  Following some deliberation, I have reluctantly decided that it is time to strike ‘eat snails’ off the list.

This challenge was suggested to me by my friend Dona; clearly she doesn’t like me a lot, as I am completely freaked out by the idea of eating those slimy things that crawl all over the walls and make a disturbing crunching sound when you accidentally step on them. ‘Why eat something you really don’t want to?,’ I hear you all cry. Well, for one, this blog was  meant to push me to try new things, no matter how much they may freak me out.  And secondly, with the collapse of capitalism imminent, I feel it is important that we all start getting used to living off the land and eating things that make our stomachs churn. Nando’s and Gourmet Burger Kitchen sadly won’t exist in the post-capitalism world. Frogs, snails and wild boars, however, will.

Back to the subject at hand. I have always been troubled by people who like eating snails. In Cyprus, they are something of a delicacy, and in my village everyone heads out to the fields the minute it rains to collect them for dinner. I still have vivid memories of the putrid smell of boiling snails emanating from the various of my aunts’ kitchens, and the disturbing sound people would make when they sucked the flesh out of the shells. I also remember staring at them in disbelief as they licked their fingers and exclaimed how delicious this slimy dish was.

I mean, seriously now, how does anyone find THIS appetising:

Gross. This picture is definitely proving one thing to me, and that’s that my gag reflex is still alive and well.

This weekend I shall therefore be heading to this restaurant in Garhoud to attempt to eat snails without gagging. Thankfully it is strategically located near to the Irish Village, meaning once I have a finished I can run across and down a couple of pints of ice cold beer to get over the trauma.

I am definitely not looking forward to this one.