The greenish juice from the snail’s shell slipped through the gaps between my fingers.
The juice was wet and sticky. Ew…! It’s like mucus.
I inspected my first snail, thinking I should just put this weird little creature back to where it should be: its shell. The snail at the tip of my toothpick was lifeless and numb. I felt sorry for it although I wasn’t a snail person (meaning: I wouldn’t want to keep this thing as a pet).
Throwing away the thought, I tried to pretend I was French by putting the snail into my mouth. I was torn between 1) closing my eyes, gulping the snail down my throat and drinking a lot of water or 2) keeping my eyes wide open and chewing the snail slowly so I would remember how my first escargot looked and tasted. I chose the second option while struggling to not think that I was about to eat a snail.
When I was in the elementary school, my parents used to take me to a French restaurant that had outdoor seating. While my parents finished their meal, I would play with my sisters in the garden, which wasn’t as fancy as the restaurant. There were snails everywhere. After some regular visits, I developed a phobia of snails.
Back in the garden of Le Bistrot St. Jean, I chewed my escargot while still trying to erase snail phobia from my mind. Fortunately, it tasted like pepper and salt. Well… maybe more salt than pepper. The spices were so strong I couldn’t really taste the snail. After the third or fourth snail, I started to chew more slowly to taste the meat. Thank, God! The snail tasted like chicken but with a more rubbery texture. It was actually better than I’d thought it would be. I ended up eating about 20 of those escargots as if I were trying to exorcise my decade-old snail-phobia.
While I savored the taste of pepper, salt, butter and garlic, I heard someone saying, “You should put it back if it does not look like it is cooked.” I tried hard to swallow the snail that was in my mouth. I looked at my next lifeless victim and suddenly lost my appetite.
Maybe I don’t have a phobia of escargots but I still want to keep my distance from snails.