16 April 2014

Snails

I don’t know why I’m picking on the French (and the Quebecois--I forgot about that poutine post) so much lately, but I can’t even fathom what a people must collectively have to go through to bring them to a point where they would be willing to suck a snail out of its shell—and then turn around and call it a delicacy. I have so little idea, in fact, that I had to ask Yahoo! One person’s response was that it’s no worse than eating clams, oysters, or lobsters. Right. Exactly. It’s not any worse than that. But nor is it any better, and considering that encrusted sea-garbage is just about the worst “edible” thing there is on this planet, that ranks snails as among the worst of the worst.
As much as I hate snails--both as an animal and as a food-- I did
really enjoy putting these snail shells on my back.

One time I was compelled to eat ribs. I have no idea whether or not the meat was any good because I was too overcome by the horror of tearing flesh from the bone. I know that some people talk about sucking marrow from bones, but I'm pretty sure this is just an urban legend, so I can only imagine—but would prefer not to—how much more horrific it would be to actually suck the meat from a chunk of coiled calcium that functions as a skeleton. Do people actually realize that snails are just slugs with shells? Has anyone seen a slug? Because they are vile and horrific beasts, and I used to devote large portions of my summers to hunting slugs with the sole purpose of then throwing them into the ocean.

I don’t know what snails eat, but I’m pretty sure it’s 90% gross slime, 10% garden plants. The snails in our aquarium live off of the algae that develops on the sides of the tank … which is just slime. And then they convert that slime into more slime so that they can transport themselves to richer slime reserves. They are disgusting. In my quest to rid the west coast of its slugs, I had the displeasure of accidentally stepping on a few a couple of times. That slime is the worst. It is sticky and slimy and doesn't come off, and while I have no idea how snails are prepared for eating, if something is not done to rid them of that slime, I can only imagine they are simultaneously lubricated down your throat, but also cling there like sickly, descended tonsils. And speaking of tonsils, if someone removed their tonsils and gave me the option of eating the raw tonsils or a perfectly prepared snail, I'm about 75% sure I would go for the tonsils. Although both are undoubtedly disgusting, only one of them would be a snail.
 Given that snails as a food are so commonly associated with France, it seems like a shame to not draw a correlation between the depravity of the Marquis de Sade and escargot. I don't know how many of you, like me, once had their interest piqued by Sade's extreme commitment to personal freedom and then proceeded to read an online summary of One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom only to be so utterly shocked and appalled that you could barely even make it through the summary, but that's how I feel about eating snails: the mere idea of it is so repulsive to me that I can't even begin to imagine actually trying the real thing. Through Sade's commitment to destroy and deprave the body so that he might be free (I have no idea what the Marquis de Sade was trying to do), he probably consumed a whole bunch of snails because few things in this world are a greater assault on the human body than that. There might be something interesting to say here (probably not), but I'm really just trying to get to Simone de Beauvoir's famous question, must we burn Sade? Her answer was a tepid no. A more crucial question might be: Il-faut manger les escargots? Our "no" must be far less tepid.

Snails are treated as a culinary specialty,
But sucking snail-meat from its shell
Is nothing more than a perverse bestiality:
If it doesn’t land you in jail, it will surely land you in hell.

So the next time a gentleman asks you to his chateau,
Remember the one hundred and twenty days of the Marquis de Sade:
A debauched, murderous orgy under a “personal freedom” façade.
The invitation, I’m afraid, you are obligated to forego
And give him instead a rousing escar-hellzno!

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