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Decades ago, land snails — in the food form known as escargot — was once a very popular dish at French-influenced restaurants in North America, where as a U.S. industry they were worth $300 million. Not as popular nowadays, snails have long been a staple in France, Spain and Portugal.
Heading back deep into our food history, the ancient Romans ate huge quantities of the gastropod mollusks. Before that, humanity in its evolution discovered that snails were tasty and nutritious. In fact, archaeological evidence of an even earlier era indicates that snails and the ease with which they could be cultivated represent a transition from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic era and may help signal humankind’s transition from foraging to food production tens of thousands of years ago.
Jake and Humphreys’ Bistro in New Hamburg prepares snails with a thoughtful blend of pearl onions and mushrooms in a red wine sauce. While that combination of ingredients has a classic French ring to it, escargot have usually been served with garlic butter — with that understanding, the kitchen at Jake and Humphreys’ adds a slice of grilled garlic toast to their dish as a little nod to a delicious tradition.
[Image: Francisco Welter-Schultes via Wikimedia Commons ]
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