“A snail farm?

“These pesky plant-eaters are a delicacy in many cultures? Never tasted them,” I replied as I pulled one off a begonia plant in our garden.

My grandson Théo (pronounced “Tayo”) convinced me that they’re good eating, cultivated in many ancient cultures. African land snails are newly being cultivated. And the slime is collected for cosmetics now. Why don’t we explore this enterprise, see if it’s interesting and worthwhile?

We started our research online, recipes and species and potential income, and decided it was a yes, let’s give this a go, find the fun. His mom encouraged us, even brought us a jarful she found on a picnic in the countryside.

So he collected fifty or so from the park after a rain, which we are carefully feeding and cleaning each day. The morning routine of cage-cleaning, hosing slime and poop out, and watching them pop out of their shells for reveille is my labor and my fun. They come out to explore, eat, move around, mate. They’re fascinating and beautiful — four points extending at the head, two with eyes and two tentacles, and a mouth beneath the eyes. Their shells are varied in color by species. Our chosen species is called helix pomatia, about an inch and a half round, brown with beige stripes circling the shell.

One day I didn’t secure the wire lid well enough and a bunch of them headed off for the beach. Théo found where they were hiding under a table and corralled them. “Think like a snail,” he chuckled, tapping his head.

Doing this project with him is the real hoot. He’s a big handsome, funny, sharp twenty-two year old with lots of good energy. The fun of creating something new out of available wildlife has us intrigued.

I’ll keep you posted on this  project in Frengh culture and cuisine.


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