Burgundy snails

Burgundy snails, or “escargots de Bourgogne”, are usually seen on the table at festive family gatherings as a plate of twelve, or a plate of six in restaurants (or for those just looking for a taste). We’re going to tell you all about this rather unusual speciality, including its history and traditional recipe.

They’ve been on the menu for thousands of years!

The history of the snail

Eating snails is not a recent trend. In fact, the Romans and Gauls used to eat them grilled or fried, in preparation for periods of famine. What more proof of their nutritional goodness do you need?

The Burgundy snail is also called the “Roman snail” or “Vineyard snail” (a good reference to Burgundy), and the scientific name is Helix Pomatia. It is the most popular snail (mostly imported as French breeders prefer the Cornu Aspersum) It is a highly protected species in France, and it is forbidden to collect them during the reproduction period.

A product that was made famous after a political meal

1814: Napoleon was defeated by Emperor Alexander I of Russia. Louis XVIII then became King of France and the Emperor decided to come and visit this new king, who did not give him a warm welcome. To avoid any political conflict, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Talleyrand, who had helped Louis XVIII take over the throne, intervened and invited the Emperor to a dinner.
Talleyrand called upon his chef to find an original dish to impress the Emperor. The chef came up with the idea of preparing snails stuffed with butter, garlic and parsley. When the Emperor was presented with this dish, he was surprised but enjoyed these tasty “escargots à la bourguignonne”. The incident with the King was forgotten and this recipe became popular all over the world!

How should they be eaten?

Preparing and tasting them

For this dish, you’ll need to make a “beurre d’escargots” (butter, garlic, parsley), then put this, along with the snails, into the empty snail shell and then bake them in the oven.
Then you’ll need snail tongs to hold the shell, and a snail fork to remove them from the shell to eat.
And because a delicious speciality of Burgundy wouldn’t be complete without wine, this dish can be paired with a glass of white wine, such as Chablis for example!