What Does Escargot Taste Like?

Escargot Taste

Every country or region has a food item that is unique to it. In many cases, this is considered a delicacy as is escargot in France. The recipe whose main ingredient is the snail has a bit of a reputation as one of the strangest things one can eat. This has more to do with the main ingredient than the recipe itself. Snails are of course eaten in many other parts of the world but the prominence of French cuisine makes escargot the first thing people think of when they hear about eating snails. It is therefore conceivable that people will wonder what escargot tastes like.


What Is Escargot?

Escargot is a starter dish that is made using edible snails. While the dish is associated with French cuisine, snails feature in many countries around the Mediterranean including Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Some theories suggest people in these regions turned to eat snails during times of hunger and famine. The word escargot in French means edible snails and is used to refer to these edible snails outside the dish as well as the dish itself. Escargot is prepared with any combination of butter, garlic, parsley, thyme and pine nuts. The snails are removed from the shells and boiled with butter and garlic in a broth. The snails are then returned to their shells with the garlic and butter broth along with other ingredients in the recipe. The dish is enjoyed warm. Now that we understand escargot let’s dig into what the dish tastes like.



One of the most dominant flavours in escargot is the butter flavour. While the snail is the base of the recipe the butter flavour dominates the entire experience of escargot. Butter’s rich, smooth and creamy flavour blends well with the snail’s flavour which we will talk about later on. Understandably the snail takes well to other flavours. This is because of the nature of snail flesh. Live snails have soft permeable flesh, this allows the flavour to get in very easily and so the snail takes on the dominant flavour of butter when cooked in escargot. The butter is also used to top the snails after returning them to their shells so you can expect a concentrated dose of the butter flavour.



Another dominant flavour in escargot is garlic. Garlic is one of those food ingredients that is so powerful it stands out even in the most crowded of recipes. Given how easily snails take on flavour one would expect escargot to be dominated by the flavour of garlic. When the garlic is cooked in the broth together with the snail bodies it softens in flavour. It drops from a strong powerful kick to a smooth rich low-intensity warmth in the mouth. Garlic has a very strong aroma that will hit you before you taste any other flavour in escargot.



Escargot recipes almost always include parsley. In many recipes, fresh parsley is simply sprinkled over the snails as they are returned to their shells. However, you will also find recipes that go hard on the parsley by making a pesto type paste of parsley and other herbs and lathering the cooked snails with it. parsley has a light herbal freshness to it. It is not a very powerfully flavoured herb and tastes like a very much watered-down version of mint. So parsley is another flavour that people easily identify when tasting escargot.



The snail itself has a taste that is very hard to liken to foods people regularly eat. Seafood lovers will be able to relate the taste of the snail in escargot to that of shellfish like mussels or clams. These shellfish do not possess a strong flavour of their own and the flesh can be described as being bland. So whenever cooked the flavour is buried in that of other ingredients. It does, however, provide a base for all the other ingredients to sit together on. For those who haven’t tasted those shellfish before the taste of cooked snails in escargot can be likened to the taste of chicken or cow intestines. Many tripe dishes will also include the intestines in the meal. A bland canvass that allows the other surrounding flavours to combine and shine.



The texture of escargot described as soft, gelatinous and chewy. Snail flesh is soft and permeable as we have mentioned before. But when cooked, especially boiled as is done in escargot the flesh does develop as hardness. It doesn’t entirely become hard but develops a gelatinous and chewy texture. You can liken the texture to cow trotters which have been extremely softened to the point of falling off the bone. This is perhaps the best match because of how chewy the snails become. Another good match for texture is the aforementioned intestine. Cow intestines are not just a flavour match for escargot but also provide a good approximation of the texture of escargot. It will not take you 5 minutes of chewing but it is a bit chewier than we would ordinarily expect snail flesh to be. Especially when we consider how soft live snail flesh is. This gelatinous chewiness can also be found in pork trotters. Muscles and clams also closely resemble the texture we get from snail flesh when it is cooked as is done in preparing escargot. You can expect a soft, chewy and gelatinous food item.


When put all the flavour elements in escargot together we have a very interesting taste. A bland chewy, gelatinous flesh that is permeated with the flavour of concentrated butter and the aromatic richness of cooked garlic. The light herbal flavour of parsley sits on top of these flavours.


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