Let’s eat those Giant African land snails!

“It’s only a matter of marketing”

They are everywhere and they eat everything. They are ugly, slimy and breed prodigiously. Could anybody – even its own mother – view the Giant African Land Snail as beautiful? How about “tasty”?

As a New York Times article on invasive species points out, it’s only a matter of marketing: Answer for Invasive Species: Put It on a Plate and Eat It.

And as a major researcher stated, ‘those countries where the snail has become part of the food chain suffer the least’.

Did we tell Bajans that we had a new species which had already successfully invaded 100+ countries but that this ‘escargot’ provided an excellent high protein food source as well?

No. We said “Don’t even touch them let alone think of eating them. They carry ‘rat lung disease’ which is akin to encephalitis” but we didn’t say that the rat lung ailment is akin to a mild flu and that there were no recorded deaths. We didn’t say that Giant African Land Snails are already being eaten and are rather tasty at that.

We’ll have to give the snails a go one of these weekends and BFP’s Robert says he’ll do the honours of finding and preparation. Robert has eaten all kind of strange things around the world but he hasn’t yet tried Giant African Land Snails.  He raves about fried chinicuiles (agave worms) with Mexican hot sauce so he shouldn’t have too much trouble with a giant plate of escargot heavy on the garlic and butter.

New challenges sometimes require old ways of thinking. If you have too much of anything: find a way to use it, package it attractively and sell it. The snail bait program is obviously a failure, so it’s time to try something else.

Thanks to Lee Bortolotti



Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Environment

14 responses to “Let’s eat those Giant African land snails!

  1. John

    Bajans might try the delicacy but only when the economy gets to the stage where this is the only cheap/free food available!!

    The thought scrawls my skin!!

    If the economy got to that stage I think I would eat breadfruit from the trees up by me.

  2. Pingback: Barbados: Escargot, Anyone? · Global Voices

  3. Colin L Beadon

    Our new giant snails out of Africa.
    Anybody can go to Google, as I pointed out some months ago, and dial up all about this same snail on sale in one of London’s major markets. There is a complete clip on how to clean and cook them.
    In my own nightly observations where I live, I have never found the giant busy eating anything other than already rotting matter, or the fallen red fruit of small palms. I have never found them on what I grow, ochras or hot pepper bushes, or on herb garden, unless they are eating rotting twigs, leaves, or other fallen rotting fruit. I don’t find them eating fallen mango or bread fruit.
    On top of this, I suspect, the frogs are eating very young snails or snail eggs, as I always see frogs close up to big African snails.
    I do see these snails climbing small palm trees, but any damage they do is difficult to find.
    So from my own observations so far, the Giant African Snail, so far, seems a natural and helpful recycling agent.

  4. Colin L Beadon

    An afterthought.
    To suggest Barbadians eat the giant African snail, is like suggesting they should drink rainwater. I suppose they know our rainwater also comes from Africa.
    One day, possibly soon enough, both may become common fare if life on this island is to be sustained. African snails and Rainwater.

  5. J. Payne

    Re: Colin L Beadon
    I’ve seen them climb golden apple trees too….
    Eat them? YAK! I couldn’t even get myself to chew on it if I wanted to. I mean are they like gummies? :-p *bleeeeeeeehhhi* If I couldn’t afford food, I feel I’d probably do like some of the Haitian people and eat dirt cookies first.

  6. Colin L Beadon

    You mean you never ate snails in thick garlic source ? You never ate oysters with lime or hot source. You never ate welks?
    What is the difference between those and oysters ? What is a lobster but a very big cockroach that lives in the sea ?
    Properly prepared and cooked, like people in this island know how to do to any fish, all you need do is take the first mouthful, and perhaps be a little drunk and very hungry. You could get a taste for almost anything, though I could never get it for sheep or cow brains, tripe, or whale blubber.
    I won’t tell you what whale blubber tastes like though. You’d throw up, like we used to do attempting to eat those things at boarding school in the war.

  7. yatinkiteasy

    Another item we should be eating is the Lionfish. Apparently. they taste great,, “better than Barracuda” says our gardener. If we dont eat them, this predator of snapper, grouper and other reef fish will wipe out the stock in short time. Lionfish are not eaten by any other fish, so they are multiplying like crazy in the Caribbean Sea.
    Lionfish cutters forLunch anyone?

  8. John

    Colin L Beadon
    July 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    On top of this, I suspect, the frogs are eating very young snails or snail eggs, as I always see frogs close up to big African snails.

    I think mongoose eat the snails too but I have never seen that happen.

    I have just seen dead ones disappear during the day leaving only pieces of shell.

    The only explanation I can come up with is that they were eaten by mongoose.

  9. Johnny Postle

    You are asking me to eat snails that are knowb to congregate on faeces were they feast; appear like a swarm of bees in garbage cans eating the scraps; and when salt is thrown on them squeal like a young chicken with all that disgusting looking slime oozing from them. And you telling me that they are a potential delicacy?

  10. CaribDigita@Yahoo.com

    If they are a delicacy. The government should find out how to export them as a luxury commodity for foreign exchange. Find out how snail preparation (as a food) is done and go that route. I mean do you salt them and put them in a brine mix? freeze them? ship them live with a head of lettuce or something?

  11. Escargot surrounds us -and we despise it???

    Ever heard the word? – Escargot.
    French snails are equally un-appealing when alive
    but we are all about emotion (judging from the scornful posts above)

    We need to bring a French Chef to the island
    and let him have a go at some PURGED African Snails
    from D.Blackman mutherland, as supplied by God, Nature and good fortune!

    Get over it, children. A great food source surrounds us
    but we have been brainwashed by Min. of Agriculture to revile and despise this humble mollusc,
    bearing the most beautiful shell of all the several species of land-snail on this island.

    We mustn’t let people make us HATE things, they way this has transpired.
    This is about inculcated hatred for the humble snail.
    They live in my garden, and trouble very few sp. of plants.
    What they DO like to munch on, they destroy(reminiscent of Man?)
    but otherwise, they trouble very few of my plants.

    Eat African Snails, before they eat you!
    Not a problem!

    I’ll have some rainwater with my order of Escargot, please.
    Thank you, waiter.

  12. J. Dunn

    Around 1988, while skiing at Snowbird, Utah, I had the opportunity to try the French delicacy, “Escargots”, on the menu at the lodge there, and they were very, very delicious! Apparently, Florida has been invaded by these mollusks, and is panicking, according to the news, and considers them a “pest”! Where are the entrepeneurs in America? I have long thought of farming snails like they do in France, but these are naturally occurring!!!

  13. Colin L Beadon

    Saw my first African snail in trinidad during a recent visit from my home in canada. I would eat them, no problem.

  14. esther Jackson

    I have a pet one of these and hate to think of its relatives being eaten, but my mums friend who lived in barbados says that when she drove out of her drive all she could hear was lots of crunching noises. That means a LOT of GALS. I think that they should definitely eat them as it is a free way of getting food, but they shouldnt eat too many and should stop when they have nowhere near as many as they have now but also nowhere near extinct.