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Snail from Burgundy: Roman fattening and sauce à la Talleyrand

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

What’s this?

A Burgundian recipe... snails! We have a little creature with its garlic and parsley butter... yummy or not?

The little history

Poor snail, he had a rough time!

Men ate snails since Prehistoric time. The Romans loved them and made delicate meals with them.

A man called Fulvius Lupinus started to fatten them up, said Pliny the Elder in his book "Natural History", with cooked wine or flour.

As he was fattened them up, he put snails in little folds. Greek Pedanius Dioscorides also said you had the best snails in Sicily, Sardinia and Africa!

In the Middle Ages, people ate them boiled or fried: 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 for the Russian tzar!

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

The cook told him: "Oh, a very easy thing! There are 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!

His cook suggested a Burgundian recipe... well, it came at the right time: Anacréon was Burgundian! And on May 22th 1814, Talleyrand hosted the tzar and served him Burgundian snails.

Guests were surprised! They never tasted a meal like that... They started to eat... and they adored! Our snails were a smash hit.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!