Considered neither as fish nor meat, snails has always been seen as the ideal food to be consumed during Lent. But beyond that, there are quite a lot more reasons to eat snails. High in protein and other essential nutrients, Escargots as they are called in European cuisine, are a delicacy and an integral part of their cooking.
Not surprising though, considering that these garden animals have a way of tantalizing the taste buds especially when well spiced. With all the slime slathered over and around them, snails might be quite a disgusting sight but these unique nutritious animals are fast becoming a superfood in many parts of Europe and around the world.
Nigerians are not left out too in the clamour for this savoury food as peppered snails are now a common sight (as small chops) in parties and special treats on menus of notable restaurants. Tedious but a worthy venture, that's how I consider the cooking process for this unusual animal. Let's see how beneficial snails are:
As a great source of selenium (an immune boosting nutrient), your immune system benefits greatly from your consumption of snails. Lectin is another valuable nutrient present in snails. Lectin possesses anti-cancer properties and helps in boosting your immune system while also fighting against cancerous cells.
Very low in calories and carbs but loaded with protein, snails are an encouraging source of animal protein for weight watchers. A 100g serving of snails have by far more magnesium than same serving of beef, chicken, pork or fish. Iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and copper are some more essential nutrients snails have to offer.
Besides carrying Vitamins A, E and K, snails are exceptionally rich in B12 vitamin, a much required nutrient in the production of red blood cells and for keeping your nervous system healthy. Some portions of hearty Omega 3 fats are also found in snails.
Yukky secretions but extremely rich in collagen, elastin and allantonin; the skin's most beneficial components. This makes them effective in the treatment of skin disorders, wounds and even broken bones. It doesn't end there; snail slime is used as a topical anaesthetic as they contain copper peptide, a substance highly effective for healing of burns, reducing pains and minimizing scars. Oligosaccharides, an active serum that works as a hydrator for the skin is also contained in snail slime. Little wonder it's been used on the skin as cream since the days of Hippocrates. Using cream on the skin makes it glow naturally, while also protecting skin cells from damage.
Surely you'll agree with me now that snails are deserving to grace your plates not only occasionally but frequently. However, wild snails are prone to carry meningitis-causing parasites and should be well cooked before eating. To purge them of parasites, European chefs would put them on a 3-day only water fast before feeding them with flour and water for an additional week before cooking.