Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Escargots, anyone?

I have a new crew of 6th grade French students.  They are new to my school and new to French.  A fresh crop to brainwash concerning the marvels of France and the French language!  Quelle joie!  Yesterday one of the girls came in with a gift for the class.  A can of snails and 18 beautiful shells that her mom found in a local shop.  The snails had already been cleaned (thank goodness, as I have no earthly idea how to go about this task) and cooked.  I brought in some butter, garlic and shallots.  I went to my back deck to pick some parsley only to discover that the caterpillars had gotten to it first and there wasn't a shred left... well, the stems are still intact, but that's it.  Someone told me that these parsley-loving critters turn into beautiful butterflies, therefore I will not complain too much.  I donned my white Arles apron and led my little darlings into the teachers' lounge where there is a stove.  Since Mrs. T, the secretary, isn't fond of the smells that my cooking produces, she came in and opened up all the windows and shut the door to the hallway.  As if anyone can keep out the smell of garlic and shallots simmering in hot butter...  Nice try, though. 
I showed my future gourmets/gourmands and chefs de cuisine how to smash the garlic clove with the knife and then mince it.  I also finely chopped the shallots.  (I am proud to report that I did not cut myself in front of them.  I waited until after class, as I was washing up, to ever so slightly nick myself with my new, very sharp knife.  Never fails.)  While I was chopping, a thorough discussion of how to prevent crying while chopping onions ensued.   As did speculations on how the snails would actually taste.  Some of the parents had told them they would taste like mushrooms or calamari.  After the garlic and shallots had sautéed a bit, we added the snails, just to warm them up.
They really do look like mushrooms.  Some of the kids wanted to stuff them back into the shells for the real feeling of being in a restaurant.  Some didn't want to get their shells messed up.  The shells were their souvenirs.  Only one boy didn't want to try an escargot.  The others loved them!  I was so impressed.  They even used their bread to clean all the remaining butter, garlic and shallots from the pan.  I am so proud...  Many thanks to the maman who provided our treat!

Bon appétit, les escargots et mes jeunes gourmands!


Anonymous said...

I am so happy that everyone enjoyed this treat. It looks wonderful. F. Tuck

elizabeth said...

Do you remember the wonderful escargot we got in the market - I think it was Sarlat. Rich butter and lots of garlic - yum, yum.

The Sabbatical Chef said...

Yes, it was Lucy's first time!! How could I ever forget that? And guess what? She has agreed to be my co-chaperone on my student trip in March-- Paris, Normandy and Provence. Maybe she and I could just stay and you could come meet us in the summer?? Good plan, I think! Would love to see you one of the days soon!