It’s welcome news that we in Britain are about to export snails to France.
With consumption at home for molluscs booming and the four snail farms in the UK struggling to cope with demand, snail farming could become a most lucrative business for the future.
Sophie Wharton, who owns Aylesbury Escargots of Wendover, Buckinghamshire, with her husband, Mike, reports a massive increase in snails. Having produced 1.7 tonnes last year, they have already reached more than three tonnes this year.
The farm has a one-thousand-square-metre field for the snails, protected by a bird net. The Whartons had previously kept their snails in plastic boxes indoors, but decided that a free range approach would be more natural. ‘As far as we know we are the first doing it on this scale,’ Mrs Wharton said. They currently sell to Michelin-starred chefs and restaurants, but are hoping to expand across the channel – if the French can stomach it.
David Walker, an accountant who became a snail farmer in 2006, said that he was also struggling to keep up with demand for his molluscs produced in Dorset.
For someone like me who relishes this delicacy all this drive and initiative is music to my ears. Whenever I feel the urge to have a plate of twelve escargots, swimming in a delicious sauce of butter and garlic, garnished I presume with a secret herb, I make my way across my office to the sumptuous Le Boudin Blanc in Shepherd Market, Mayfair – which I consider home from home during weekdays – and indulge myself with a glass of Chablis and freshly baked bread and end up with an espresso and two small biscuits to follow.
For those of you who have not had this experience I recommend you ditch any food inhibition you may have and cross the rubicon of this culinary delight. You will not regret it; on the contrary you will become a snail addict.