Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cargols Means Snails

Of the many wonderful Catalan cuisine dishes I have eaten, there is one I have tasted, enjoyed, and crossed off my list of menu items to request when dining out, cargols. I have tried escargots in a buttery garlic sauce back in the day when I wanted to expand the range of my culinary palette and appear cultured. I still remember the six, huge, thick snails served on a white plate with an escargot tong and fork at a restaurant  somewhere in Solvang, CA. It seemed like such a European thing to do, eat this one footed mollusk delicacy, too expensive to eat for the price of six little creatures in a butter and garlic sauce. I quickly got over it. 

Or so I thought. Cargols are very much present here in Catalonia and in my life because my husband relishes eating them with an intensity as he picks and chews, then lifts the empty shell to his mouth to suction out the sauce left inside. Slurpppp. He used to ask when was I going to learn how to cook cargols  like his Tieta Teresina. My answer to that question was always the same, “Never.” I enjoying cooking and I have nothing against this type of cuisine, but I will not spend hours in the kitchen laboring over a dish I am not going to eat. This cargol fix of his comes around every two months. It’s one of his all time favorite dishes, but I will leave it to restaurants to make him happy as he carefully pulls the snail from its shell with a long wooden pick. I have tried cargols here and they are very savory, but when I see the cooked snail pulled out of its shell, I get a bit uncomfortable.

The size of cargols here are small and a deep brown in color. They're coiled, shiny, and tight when removed from their shell. Maybe I stared to hard at them when I had them a second time in a rich tomato sauce and kept wondering about their tentacles. Perhaps it was the idea that they looked too much like the snails in between my plants or like the snails my mom would fling in the air when she was out pulling weeds when I was a little girl. The cargols on my plate no longer looked appealing with each one I pulled out. 

vi de taula
I do, however, participate eating this dish my way as David relishes with such passion his cargols a la llauna. When the snails are nearly eaten, I will reach for a piece of pa de pagès per sucar al suc. I might not eat the cargols, but I will dip my bread into the oil left on the pan because it is absolutely delectable. Now if his Tieta Teresina, who is 83 years old, had prepared cargols in tomato sauce, you can bet that I would be dipping my bread in that sauce too. 

cargols a la llauna--snails prepared in a square iron pan
rows of neatly arranged snails with shell openings facing up. this cargol dish
 is prepared with salt,  pepper, and olive oil and  cooked on an open grill. normally snails are boiled and sauteéd. 

hot finger burning snails

understand why I can't eat cargols anymore?

eating all i oli with pa de pagès, perfect combination for eating cargols
this is the delectable suc I was talking about, pan drippings are the best
 sucar bread in oil
best carbonated water to help aid digestion from eating so many cargols. Vichy Catalan is commemorating the 125th  year of the Statue of Liberty

empty shells
happy belly means happy man
tallat, catalan expresso with a small amount of milk

restaurant El Taller in Caldetes, a small seaside town 


  1. I remember escargot in Solvang! It was the first time I ever had it. :o)

    Que interesante. So, how does one make cargols en el estilo de Catalonia?

  2. Ha ha ha!! Yes, we went there together and I remember three things: snails, ostriches, and lovely rolling hills.

  3. Uff! The Catalan way of preparing cargols és molt complicat!

  4. Lol. What about the big wooden shoe?

    Ok, now you HAVE to give us details on how to make it.

  5. Don't remember the wooden shoe, darn!


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