Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Brian Is Gonna Get It

This morning I woke up full of purpose, thrust and vim with one clear objective on my mind, today was the day that I was finally going to cut the small lawn in our front garden. Personally, I find mowing the grass one of life's more tedious chores especially since I own an ancient Qualcast hover mower that seems to fold blades of grass neatly in half rather than actually cut them. With rising anger and frustration, I often give in to a propensity to start grinding the machine into the turf, teeth gritted as my arms shake violently, sending clumps of soil flying into the ether. The end result is usually akin to my Dad's attempts to cut my hair with a pair of blunt scissors when I was younger, a patchy morass of bald spots with the odd tuft springing up here and there. But the job had to be done and I've been putting it off for too long so I gave it a good crack early this morning. Because my mower is so rubbish it doesn't collect the grass so after the exercise, I had to stoop down and collect the long green sheaves with my bare hands (oh woe is me). As I was doing so, with each sodden handful I kept finding a snail nestled within and we're not talking about babies here, we're talking big, juicy, fat gastropods. I suppose that this shouldn't have come as a surprise given that the Bank Holiday had just past with the usual deluge of rain. Actually I think I was more perplexed that so many survived the onslaught. But as I stood there cradling a slimey sucker in my hand, two thoughts then came suddenly pinging into my brain. The first being that I should really invest in a decent lawnmower that saves me the job of bending over and my poor back. And the second? Well of course I started wondering what it would be like to eat them. The snails that is.

You may or may not know this but the petis gris or escargot that gets served up in French bistros across France and the rest of the world is none other than your regular Helix aspersa. That's the common brown snail to you and me and I've often thought about gathering some to cook at home so this seemed like a marvelous opportunity. I've garnered some information from the internets and the whole process looks to be quite simple. The most important thing to do is to make sure you purge* them and in particular make sure that they haven't ingested any pesticides. If they have taken anything toxic on board they will die within a day after collection which seems to be an easy indicator. If they don't die then they will happily survive on a diet of water which will clean their systems out and after four days will be ready to cook and eat. However you can also carry on feeding them on herbs and cornmeal for up to two weeks to fatten them up. You then put them on a water diet for two days for a final purge. This is what I have read anyway.

At the moment I've got a dozen Brians tucked away in a large Tupperware box (with air holes) in the shed, lounging around on a bed of lettuce and water. I'm not entirely sure what route to go yet, the four day liquid diet or the 2 week super sizing but when I had one last peek before leaving for work, at least 4 of the blighters were engaged in some kind of carnal activity. I think they know the end is near and making the best use of their love darts in an orgiastic frenzy. Well you would wouldn't you if the world was nigh. I shall let you know what I do with them but if in the meantime anyone has any tips or words of wisdom, I shall be very grateful.

A dozen escargot s'il vous plait

Brian #1

Brian and chums are gonna get it

*purge = make sure they have a good ol' crap

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