Why have snails picked up the pace?

Le Futiloscope has already told you about it, the triumphant return of « slow food », in the most literal sense: food that moves at 2 mph, a shell on its back and leaves a trail of slime in its wake. That was before summer, and frankly we weren’t sure we really believed in its comeback on Parisian menus. But yes! This season as the leaves turn, they’re everywhere, our friends the gastropods! There isn’t one trendy neo-canteen, one new wave Bouillon café (La Pigalle), one famous chef’s bistro (La Poule au Pot by Piège), one brasserie revisited (Astair) that doesn’t have them on its menu, accompanied by an old-fashioned parsley and garlic sauce,.. So Vieille France !

Does all this sound like reheated leftovers? Absolutely. Not like in New York where the snail has also become very trendy, and where it’s running wild. Young chefs are infatuated with the idea of the classic French bistro. But they’re bringing it into the future! At French Louie in Brooklyn snails are served de-shelled with pork belly diced bacon and polenta fries. At Frenchette, “in” address in TriBeCa, they’re a topping for a brouillade of eggs. At the very chic Eleven in Madison Square, they’re a mini brochette with mushrooms and fern shoots. At Colonie, it’s Campanelle, with a little bit of garlic, mint and pecorino…even more delicious, no? All these chefs have chosen the Peconic Escargot, a Long Island variety, fed on rye, malt and wild herbs culled nearby, with a taste of hazelnuts, “halfway between animal and vegetable…

We concede, this time you’re right, it sounds a lot like storytelling. Just remember, in the 70’s American chefs imported cans of Escargots de Bourgogne. Today, while here in France the food lovers are back-pedaling into the retro, in the US, this jewel of our gourmet heritage has been given a serious face-lift. French Cuisine? “It no longer exists”, Alexandre Cammas recently said on the radio France Culture. In any case, said the creator of Le Fooding, not as a vector of national “soft power”. Even if from time to time it reinvents itself…thanks to chefs from outside of France and beyond our frontiers. The perfect illustration of today’s fable “The Cook and the Snail”…