That’s right, it’s that time of year when snails start appearing on menus throughout the South of Spain, Hay Caracoles!
Turns out in Basque Country, snails make an appearance too this time of year. In Vitoria- Gasteiz snails have a special day when the people of Alava day celebrate their Patron saint, San Prudencio. Álava (Araba in Euskera) is one of the three provinces within Basque Country with a capital city for each of them: Vitoria-Gasteiz is captial of Araba, San Sebastian of Guipúzcoa and Bilbao of Vizcaya.
Though snails are available in speciality shops and the local market, this Saturday and Sunday April 27th and 28th is when snails have their shinning moment. When families will go through the laborious process of cleaning and fooling the snails to poke their heads out of their shell before cooking them in a tomato-based sauce. Restaurants will be cooking up big Cazuelas full of the chewy morsels as people gather in the streets to enjoy the festivities of live music and dancing. Served up in a small clay bowl with a jar of toothpicks to pick up the snails and then slurp them down.
Though I’ve tried snails I can’t say they’re my thing. Maybe Spanish snails are prepared in more divine way but after trying them once in Marrakesh, I think I’ll need a lot of convincing to try them again. I’m happy that I have the excuse of being out of in town, pintxo hoping again in San Sebastian. It seems I’m not the only one who doesn’t fancy snails (thank goodness) as many locals remind me that this weekend is snail eating time but not everyone is a fan. It seems in my unofficial poll, Basques are split down the middle about whether they look forward to this time of year when they can eat snails to their heart’s content.