If in other parts of the world the snails enjoy extended life span, secluded and quiet existence than on Crete they are very much in the spotlight, enyoing the centre attention and a prominent place in the Cretan diet. If in other parts of the world the people think of them as disgusting garden pests, here they are seen as a centre piece of the islands menue - delicious, nurturing and very much appreciated on this island which is probably why you will rarely see them in the garden.
I also have difficulty classifying these tardy, little, slow beings and placing them properly in my food chain. Well, clearly it is not a meat, at least by Cretan standards; surely they are not veggies either. I'd like to regard them as sort of 'earth food', just like mussels are considered to be a 'seafood'.
Cretan earth food
The fame has its price to pay - most of Cretan snails end up all butter-soacked, rosemary-seasoned, wine-drunk. Despite the tradition of snail eating on Crete, I can't help feeling a bit like a cannibal and somewhat supreme every time when devouring snails.
If you don't feel like having a snail-collecting experience during the morning moisty hours, fortunately here on Crete you can get the them also at laiki (the street market), coming right from the snail farm - neatly packed in a bag (so you don't have to pick them live and kill actually). Thats, if you opt for home-cooking or - nicely served on the dish in a tavern.
Well, either way the Cretan snails is a must food experience on Crete that you don't want to miss.
What do you need? 'Simplicity is the root of all genius'! The same applies for cooking the snails. What you need is literary few basic ingredients but most importantly - the snails. The list ingredients is following:
How to do it? The more the merrier, so invite friends over for a snail feast. You have to start with removing the membrane covering the opening of the shell and wash the snails properly. Than drown them in bowl filled with water and leave them there until their heads come out (30 to 45 minutes). Throw away all the snails whose heads have not come out. Put the snails in a pot of olive oil - well heated and boil for 10 - 15 minutes. Add the rosemary, salt and pepper, stir them for another 3 minutes later add the sip of vinegar and some wine. Let them come to the boil and they are ready to serve.
Snails go beautifully with the Cretan wine variety and some Cretan jazz! :) Enjoy!
Did I mention there is the whole festival devoted to snails on Crete? Read about the Cretan snail feast here!
Having traveled for over 30 years, since 6 years now, I have found the whole world in one of the most fascinating and unique places on earth – Crete. It is a diverse, rich and inspiring island which even after so many years does not stop surprising me - its rich history and unique traditions, its people, the delicacies of Cretan cuisine, its landspace and its stunning nature. Here I reveal some of its secrets.
I see Crete through turquoise - pink glasses.