Snail from Burgundy: Roman fattening and sauce à la Talleyrand

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Snails - ©J. Patrick Fischer / CC-BY-SA Snails - ©J. Patrick Fischer / CC-BY-SA
Festivities Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand Speciality

What’s this?

A Burgundian recipe, that foreigners hate... snails! Oh, well, in fact, it’s delicious! Come on, let’s see that: we have a little creature rather disgusting (after all, it’s not worse than oysters) with its garlic and parsley butter... yummy or not?

The little history

Poor snail, he had a rough time!

Since the Prehistoric time, men ate snails. Roman loved them and made delicate meals with them. A man called Fulvius Lupinus started to fatten them up, said Pline the Ancient in his book the "Natural History", with cooked wine or flour.

As he was fatten them up, he put snails in little folds. Greek Dioscoride also said that in Sicily, in Sardinia, in Africa and on island of Chio, you had the best snails!

In the Middle-Ages, people ate them boiled or fried: yes, they considered them as lean part meat! Of course, dukes of Burgundy ate snails...

Talleyrand, the tzar and snails

Where did the recipe come from? The tradition says it was Talleyrand (the famous politician) who created it: he made it for the Russian tzar! Yes...

Talleyrand hosted the tsar in 1814, in his Saint-Florentin city house in Paris. His cook was a man whose name was Anacréon. Talleyrand called him, to talk about the tzar dinner. Talleyrand wanted snails.

The cook told him: "Oh, a very easy thing! There’s plenty of recipes..." He started to enumerate: roasted snails, snails with red wine, with garlic... Talleyrand said nothing, thoughtful. No, no! He wanted something... special!

So his cook suggested a Burgundian recipe... well, it came at the right time, because Anacréon was Burgundian! OK, it’s a deal! And on May 22th 1814, Talleyrand hosted the tzar and served him Burgundian snails. Everyone was surprised! They never tasted a thing like that... They started to eat... and they adored! And our snails were a smash hit!

And also!