Monday, April 3, 2017

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 324: Eat escargot

Escargot at the Tally-Ho in Selma.
Several years ago, when I drafted my first “bucket list,” I included a number of unusual food items. Over the years, I’ve tried many of them, including chitterlings, alligator, goat’s milk and others. Escargot was one of the first foods that I put on my list, and I finally got to sample some the other day for the first time.

For those of you unfamiliar with escargot (pronounced like “s-car-go”), it’s nothing more than a cooked land snail. In fact, the French word “escargot” literally means “snail.” Considered a delicacy in France, Spain and Portugal, this dish is somewhat uncommon in rural Alabama.

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a chance to eat escargot ever since I put it on my “bucket list,” and I’d sort of relegated it to the category of something that I would just happen to chance upon one day. However, a few weeks ago, my wife and I decided to drive to Selma to eat at the Tally-Ho restaurant, which is considered one of the best restaurants in the entire state of Alabama. I pulled up their menu online and almost immediately noticed that you can order escargot there as an appetizer.

Once at the restaurant, I ordered some escargot, which were relatively cheap, with six being just $9.95. The waiter eventually brought them out in a circular dish with six compartments, each containing one cooked snail. My wife turned her nose up at them, but my daughter did eat one after I promised her a dollar if she ate it without spitting it out. I ended up eating the other five.

I ate each one slowly, trying to mentally record and process the entire experience. Each snail was about the size of an oyster or chicken liver and very chewy. The snail meat was solid and tasted heavily of the buttery, cheesy sauce it was cooked in.

The toughest part of eating escargot was the mental aspect of it. My rational mind understood that I was eating what amounted to fully cooked meat, but the other half of my mind kept conjuring up the disgusting images of the black, slug-like snails that congregate in the grass at my backdoor during certain times of the year. To soldier through the five snails I ate, I just took my time and flipped the switch that allowed me to just get it done. It didn’t hurt that I was able to wash each one down with several healthy swallows of Budweiser.

Now that I’ve had my curiosity settled about what escargot actually taste like, I can’t really say that I have a strong hankering to eat them again. That’s not to say I wouldn’t, I just don’t plan to go out of my way to eat them. They are unusual, to say the least.

In the end, how many of you have eaten escargot? What did you think about it? When and where did you eat it for the first time? What other unusual foods would you recommend trying? Let us know in the comments section below.

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