i eat my vegetarian enemies for dinner

It’s that point in time on the veg gardening calendar when we need to pull certain plants out that are ending their season and plant the new varieties that are suited to the warm season. Out with the garlic, onion, spinach and shallots and in with beans, beans and more beans. It’s ‘bean’ my aim to capitalise on summer’s warmth to grow as many beans as possible, not to eat in summer though, why bother when there are ripe tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini in season? I grow the beans in summer, let them dry out in their pods and harvest them in autumn and store them in large jars for my weekly bean cook up. It’s the old approach of harnessing the life of summer and utilising that energy to get you through the lean times of winter.

At the end of a massive day in the veg garden, I looked at the first round harvest of garlic and onion, it hung in bunches dishevelled bunches on the old clothes line, swaying in the breeze, with the hollow tapping sound of onion stalk hitting onion stalk and I thought to myself, tonight I should cook something to celebrate this little harvest. I’ve been purging some snails (Que: vegetarian enemy) for a rabbit and snail paella that I like to cook, but I decided to celebrate what the garden had on offer. A little bit of my new home cured bacon would make a nice addition, along with some parsley and white wine. The snails were washed, rinsed and farewell’d with the obligatory comments from the kids…”ooohhh yuck…you’re not going to eat snails again dad!”

The little snails boiled for about half an hour, then were transferred to simmer another half hour in the white-wine-garlic broth-sauce-thing. A little increase of heat, some cornflour, a knob of butter and grate of peccorino and the job seemed done.

Not many people eat these. In fact I know I’m in the minority. But I have convinced some people to try it, even my eldest daughter did, at one time, eat a snail. But tonight she declined the offer. I had no problems with that.

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  • http://www.pearlandelspeth.blogspot.com annie

    Yay! I have often thought about eating snails (I did eat them regularly in Europe as a child) but wasn’t sure if the aussie garden snail was OK. Do you eat the shells as well? Looks great! though I reckon our ducks will be pissed if I start cutting in on their snail bounty…

  • Shirley tucker

    Good to hear from you Rohan. Wondering how my order for the books is coming along. It’s been two weeks and haven’t received anything. Cheers,

  • http://www.destinationhereandnow.com Margaret Hogan

    I think I’d take some arm twisting too Rohan. I wonder how different my perception would be from the reality :)

  • http://www.podandthreepeas.com paula

    i think i’d eat your snails … don’t know about my boys !!

  • http://idreamofbrewery.wordpress.com Darren

    so how exactly do you purge a snail?

    • http://wholelarderlove.com rohan

      Pop then in a container and feed them washed lettuce.

      • http://domainelacombedujardinier.blogspot.fr/ amanda

        rosemary is great for purging snails, don’t know how it grows in Australia but we have wild bushes ready for the picking, i think it gives the snails a lovely flavor

        your snails look delicious, i will definitely be trying this one

        bon appétit

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/double_you_be/ Dad Berry

    Run out of slugs?

    I will have some Possum ready for the Barbie when you get here.

    See you soon!

  • Brooke

    I’ve had many a feast of snails but only the specifically farmed varriety. I seems to remember reading many years ago that not all varrieties of snails are edible and some can even be poisonous. How can you tell which are good and which are not?
    And do you feed them on a bran mash for a few days to purge them of the their poop trail?

    • http://wholelarderlove.com rohan

      I just feed them lettuce for a week or so. I eat just the garden variety. Still alive.

  • http://www.funkenwagnel.com Sharon @ Funken Wagnel

    I could never eat snails, but have to admit it’d be a great way to keep the snail population down around the garden!

  • kenzie king

    We had oodles of these creatures at our old house. They were used to improve my throwing distance. I never considered eating them-guess the joke’s on me! Thanks for opening my eyes to possibilities I hadn’t thought of. Since I live in America, our seasons are opposite from yours and reading your blog makes me wish I could follow the sun and have a never ending garden.
    Keep up the delicious work :)

  • http://www.cycleexif.com/ Adam Leddin

    Finally! A fresh approach to eating snails over the traditional. Looks delicious!

  • http://www.alittlehomewithfreesias.blogspot.com.au Kate


    I love your blog. I love the way you write. I excitedly made my breakfast this morning and set my toddler up for some quiet play, so I could indulge in some early morning blogging. As I sit here eating my muesli I find myself reading with interest and yet wretching at the thought of eating snails from the garden. You are truly gross ;) Lol …

    I have also been reflecting on some of your more recent posts and the comments made by other readers. I just wanted to say this. What you do in your everyday life and what you write about is truly meaningful. Writing your book has allowed your loyal followers to indulge in a lifestyle that we either envy or in our own little way, want to achieve. Publishing your book was one of the best decisions you made this year! You are making a difference. Don’t feel the pressure from outside forces that you cannot control. Ignore the comments that are unnecessarily argumentive and be proud of the contribution that you make not only to your local community, but the online community that loves to hear your stories.
    I have requested a copy of your book from Santa, :) so you better get wrapping!
    I don’t write comments often but just couldn’t help myself today.
    Have a great day!
    Kate :)

    • http://wholelarderlove.com rohan

      Beautiful. Thanks Kate.

  • kk

    Having read a few posts and bought your book, I believe you are the male version of the women I dream to be. Have you seen Miss Snail Pails site? I’m threatening my family with snail Bolognese with home made pasta, my elderflower champagne and a garden salad lunch for Xmas. So far it’s kept away most of the relatives…
    Keep up the brilliant work. It’s what I think and try to do all the time, I’m glad to see someone informing with humility and beautiful photos. Well done and Thank you!
    and here’s that site: http://misssnailpail.org

    • http://wholelarderlove.com rohan

      Feed them snails I say!!! Have a great Christmas.

  • http://trasmonte.es Rubén B

    Snails are delicious. You just need water, salt, some jamón and onions.
    It’s a pity I went vegetarian this summer. Maybe next I change again my mind…

    By the way, if you have problems in your garden with the snails, and cannot eat them all, try with some bottle-traps with beer. Snails love it, specially when cheaper.

  • Poul

    Snails are great, ate them at my in laws place in france but never caught them in Australia. I did know one guy who collected them, put them in a small bird cage with bread which he used to purge them. What did you use and how long did it take?

    Have you tried frogs too? You use a long piece of wood or bamboo, put some fishing line on the end, say 3 metes and on the end a small piece of red wool, then ready to fish for frogs in one of the traditional French ways….method courtesy of my wife.

    The frogs are delicious…legs anyway…..

  • http://blog.lemonpi.net Y

    Love them with plenty of garlic. Where do you get your snails from? Didn’t think the garden variety were edible.

  • http://www.asweetroad.com jaime @ sweet road

    I remember eating snails at one point before I stopped eating meat… They were a lot better than I had imagined!

  • http://thecitygourmand.blogspot.com thecitygourmand

    Just tried snails for the first time this year in France. I’m sure the Aussie version isn’t far behind!

  • http://www.srslyliz.com Liz

    I’ve eaten escargot ONCE, when I was about 13, on a cruise ship. I remember them tasting like sauteed mushrooms {which I love} and have a similar consistency. I’d be down to try them again, especially prepared the way you have shown.

    ps; I’m snickering at the photo where a couple of the snails appear to be fleeing for their lives out of the bowl.

    pps; I gave my boyfriend your book for his birthday and I can’t decide who reads it more, me or him!

    Thanks for being awesome.

    • Merryl Chantrell

      SYDNEY – While escargot is the pride of French cuisine, eating common garden slugs or snails can be fatal.
      The Medical Journal of Australia made the discovery after a patient with mysterious symptoms was found to have eaten two garden slugs for a dare.
      A young man who showed puzzling symptoms over a period of weeks was diagnosed with human eosinophilic meningitis after eating the molluscs, which are hosts of the larval stage of a lung worm parasite, the Journal said.
      “Repeated questioning revealed that the patient had ingested, five weeks earlier for a dare, two slugs from a garden in a Sydney suburb,” said co- author of the report John Walker of the Department of Medicine at Sydney University.
      “Humans become accidental hosts when they ingest the larval stage in raw or undercooked molluscs or crustaceans, or in fresh vegetables contaminated by infected molluscs,” Walker said.
      It was five months before the patient was able to return to full-time studies and competitive sport.
      The Angiostrongylus cantonensis parasite is the most common infectious cause of eosinophilic meningitis worldwide and is endemic in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Basin.
      In Australia, the first human infection with the A. Cantonensis parasite was reported in 1971. Since then a fatal case occurred in a child who ingested molluscs in a suburban Brisbane garden.

      • http://wholelarderlove.com rohan

        That’s why we purge snails for a few weeks. And we don’t eat them raw. We boil them for an hour.

        • Merryl Chantrell

          Is there much of the snail left after boiling them for an hour?

          • http://domainelacombedujardinier.blogspot.fr/ amanda

            first of all
            people get sick from eating raw pork or chicken but no one seams to be shocked at the idea of eating it cooked.

            second of all
            do you need to ask if there was anything left after an hour of boiling, look at the picture, it looks frigin delicious

          • http://wholelarderlove.com rohan

            I love when people talk sense. Xo Amanda

          • http://wholelarderlove.com rohan

            Very much meat remaining. It’s quite a filling meal! Delicious too

  • http://quietinglife.com GG @ Quieting Life

    I’m curious that you pull your onions and shallots so early. Mine usually go a few weeks beyond garlic harvest, once their tops have died back. But I harvest for long storage in the root cellar…perhaps you’re using them all up quickly? It’s so strange to watch the yearly cycle exactly opposite mine. I’m in Vermont, USA, just waiting for the first snow to fly, and there you are planting beans!

  • http://www.lovelygreens.com Tanya @ Lovely Greens

    You’ve certainly cooked it up in a visually appealing manner but still they don’t look particularly appetising. It’s funny because I can’t imagine the idea of eating snails is any different from eating clams, oysters or any other slimy invertebrate.

  • Katerina

    Here in Greece we eat them especially in the countryside. Some people hate them some love them. I am with those who love them. We collect them with the first rain in autumn and they are delicious. When we collect them to clean them from the ground we put them in a farm basket and for several days we feed them with flour. We eat them with fresh tomato sauce and onions, fresh tomato sauce and rice like risotto and with tomato and whole little onions and this way we call it . This is the way we eat rabbits.
    Katerina ff

  • Katerina

    The way we call the recipe withe little onions is stifado and it is the way we traditional eat rabbits.
    Katerina ff

  • Merryl Chantrell


  • http://www.highmaintenancehippy.blogspot.com.au Allana

    We are keen to try snails after seeing your cookbook, even my almost 6 year old daughter is keen…. thanks for inspiring us :)

  • http://lookseebynaomifenton.blogspot.com/ look see.

    I ate snails for the first time this year in Launceston, no less (I have been to Paris…twice, but didn’t get around to doing it there for some reason). This looks like a great way to cook them – it’s kind of reminding me of a recipe for mussels?

    • karl j vogt

      if mussels are like pippis (those white clams you find with your toe on the beach) you can put them in a pan and cook them dry until the shell opens. a bit on the salty side but good for you if you’re stuck somewhere on the coast with no food (i speak from experience)

  • http://ofagatesandmadeleines.wordpress.com Emma

    Never thought I’d find myself proclaiming “I wish my garden had snails!” And yet there it is.

  • Raine

    We love snails over here where we cook them with coconut milk (squeezed from freshly grated coconut meat with a little warm water, the better to coax the milk out of the flesh), ginger, salt, finger chili and fresh chili leaves. This is perfect with hot rice and a cold bottle of beer or soda to wash it all down with. YUM!

  • http://Byc4.comnotupdated Christiane Büssgen

    Your stories are surprising ( i have never considered eating snails from the garden) but so natural and obvious in the same time. Your sense for raw beauty and flavour and the process of harvest, preparing and cooking is very inspiring. Thank you! I look forward to get your book for xmas. Christiane

  • http://alpineflowerchild.blogspot.com Majal

    Love this blog! Just found it on Pinterest- gorgeous photos, too! I’ve never tried snails before, but this did make me a lot more curious!


  • karl j vogt

    well amanda it’s fair enough that merryl points out that people die from this parasite because there are impatient people who will read PART of this blog and not all of it. rohan didn’t exactly highlight that point.

    you get all types on sites like these and by the nature of this site you’ll get the odd ‘suburban commando’ who wants to be a ‘he-man’ and eat snails and slugs raw.

    all merryl was saying is DON’T. especially
    with an animcal that small.

    so there’s no need have a go

    at her. she was just trying to help and i, for one was glad to be informed.

    btw rohan : i prefer meat fried. is that unsafe with them?

  • karl j vogt


  • localeyes

    I know I’m a bit late with my comment, but thank you so much for this post! I was determined to eat snails from my garden and got completely scared off from the horror stories of what snails can carry. You have inspired me to have a crack!

    • http://wholelarderlove.com rohan

      Just make sure you purge them in maize for a week, wash them well under water and boil for an hour.

  • http://wildfoodforays.blogspot.com.au/ Aaron

    Hmm, I might have to go out in the current drizzle with a torch and a bucket I reckon! Never tried snail in any form, but I love mussels, oysters and periwinkles. Probably all taste the same once you dip em in chilli sauce.

    Is there any chance you could post a pic of what you refer to as a “Garden Snail”, please? Just wanting it for ID purposes.

    Thanks for the post, very informative. And tasty looking.