snail close up

If your garden is besieged with snails, you’ve probably joked once or twice about making escargot. They’re a delicacy, right? But joking about eating snails is one thing. Actually doing it… that’s weird, right?

Miss Snail Pail, aka Colleen Flanigan, disagrees. “I can’t believe people poison and waste this food source.”

Colleen isn’t just a snail activist: She’s a 2010 TED Fellow who works to restore dying coral reefs around the world. When she’s home in Portland, she runs a unique pest control service. For a fee, Miss Snail Pail will harvest the snails from your garden, take them home, and eat them herself.

Miss Snail Pail in costume

On the weekends, you can find Miss Snail Pail at fairs and festivals, spreading the word about homemade escargot. Her costume makes her approachable, which makes it easier to broach the topic. The only people who disagree with her tend to be vegetarians, and Colleen understands that. She’s occasionally conflicted about eating living creatures, but ultimately believes that her method is sustainable and ethical.

“It’s not about eradicating, not about saying, ‘hey everybody, go eat snails.’ It’s about finding moderate balance. It’s about noticing that you could have eaten them instead of poisoning them.”

Making Backyard Escargot

Cavemen ate snails, and so did the post-war French. In fact, escargot (French for “snail”) became a 20th-century delicacy after the war-impoverished nation of foodies rediscovered this abundant food source, and figured out how to make it truly delicious. They ate the snails from their own gardens, and so can you.

Still, don’t attempt to make your own escargot without thoroughly researching how it’s done. The most important step is “purging” the snails of any unhealthy substances by controlling their diet. Then it’s a matter of preparing them to your taste — which, for most people, means plenty of garlic and butter.

Here are Miss Snail Pail’s methods of preparing snails for food, and a traditional escargot recipe. Would you try this at home?

Still squeamish? Then perhaps these natural pest control methods are for you. 

Top image: koonisutra

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