Snails! tasty treat or garden pest?

In the UK snails are mostly considered a pest, little slimy slitherers who eat your plants and have the audacity to leave a messy track as a calling card. That is unless you are a two-year-old when snails are charming new friends full of glittery trailing loveliness to be treasured and petted in your sticky little hand.

In other areas of the world snails are considered a tasty treat, whether it's the giant African variety served dried on sticks, or the escargot, farmed and served with grass sauce or garlic butter. Britain is coming round to the idea -theres a snail farm supplying restaurants just a few miles away from my village, in Aylesbury.

I hadn't realised that Cypriots traditionally eat snails unit I visited the aptly named Garden of Eden supermarket in Paphos where among the displays of fresh fruit and vegetables I photographed this:

Yes, apparently snails sell for six euros a kilo in Paphos- that's if you can manage to grab a kilo as the little blighters were obviously aware of their fate and most of them seemed to be making a bid for escape, tracking their way up and over the edge of the display!

And that right there is why I love Cyprus. Reassuringly familiar with driving on "our" side of the road, using three pin plugs, and yet still very different! You'd never see a display like this in our supermarkets and that's why my holidays here still feel foreign!

Apparently you are most likely to be offered snails in a traditional meze where they might come served in tomato sauce (Karaoli Yahni) or boiled in water and vinegar  then served with olive oil, vinegar and seasoning (Karaoli Vasti). 

Obviously the snails are farmed, or collected then "purged" - typically kept in a container of wheat chaff with a sprig of thyme pressed in for 3/4 days until their stomachs and insides are guaranteed to only have clean food in!

I have been coming to Cyprus for almost ten years now and have never seen it on the menu, but to be honest we don't tend to order meze as I'd like to fit into my clothes when I get back to the UK.

Anyone reading ever eaten them on the island? Or anywhere else? I'd love to know what you think! 

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