What is Escargot? The famous Escargot, or escargots à la bourguignonne, is a traditional French appetizer dish composed of wild snails and snail butter made with garlic and parsley. It’s a sought-after delicacy in France and people come from all over the world to try authentic French escargot firsthand!
Escargot Origin and History
Where does escargot come from? The famous Escargot dish comes from the Burgundy region of France in Europe! The French have consumed snails for a long time, dating back to the hunter-gatherer period of pre-history, to the origins of the history of the culinary arts.
Father Vallée, a Burgundian innkeeper from Bassou in the Yonne department of Burgundy, is said to have invented a buttered snail recipe in 1796.
In 1814, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, minister and head diplomat to King Louis XVIII at the time of the Bourbon Restoration in France, asked his Burgundian cook Marie-Antoine Carême to prepare a dinner in honor of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Carême was nicknamed the “king of chefs and chef of kings” for his exceptional cooking skills.
The chef stuffed Burgundy snails with butter, garlic, and parsley and declared them “Burgundy-style snails” and the meal was a success! The recipe has since been one of the emblems of Burgundy and French cuisine.
In 1825, Charles-Yves Borel published the very first recipe for escargots à la bourguignonne in his Nouveau Dictionnaire de Cuisine cookbook instructing readers to “boil them in their shells, then pull them out of the water and out of their shells with a fork; throw them into cool water; wash the shells, put some butter mixed with fine herbs, salt, and pepper into the shells; put the snails back in their shells; cover them with the same butter; and, after roasting them once more, serve.”
Unfortunately, there is a shortage of snails in France and many of them are imported now. Spreading from the East, the consumption of farmed snails in France is estimated to be 30,000 tons per year, of which only 800 to 1,000 tons are produced by France. Quelle horreur!
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