Reprogramming my Skewed Perception of Escargot

Vietnamese traditional cuisine often features snails. I’ve never sees them in Vietnamese restaurants in the US but stories from the parents have told me they often cook with it and put it over bun (vermicelli) in Vietnam. I’ve planned to try out a few snail dishes in Vietnamese fare when I go back to visit.

In July 2007, I had my first and only escargot experience up til last weekend. I had a friend visiting from Houston and we were just hopping from new experience to the next. We drove by a West Campus (a neighborhood walking distance from campus) restaurant called Tony’s Vineyard. I wouldn’t doubt it if it went out of business since our visiting. It was a disastrous restaurant with tasteless pasta and soups. My penchant for taking food photos started in 2005 (way before I started food blogging) so I actually have some photos of this experience.

Highly doubt this place still exists. Which is a good thing.

4 years ago, I was still operating on one master bucket list, letting whatever on that list guide me in life. “Try escargot” was on my list. Unfortunately for me, the first time I encountered escargot on a menu was here, at this seedy questionable restaurant. Chris, my visiting friend, appeased me and agreed to share the escargot as an appetizer.

Oi. Foolish mistake to go here for my first experience. It was extremely rubbery and took me full minutes to chew it enough to make it safe to swallow. I was eager to cross escargot off my list and even more eager to not try them again. Since then, my escargot loving friends, namely Cindy, kept telling me I should go for the really buttery places at good French restaurants. She made bold promises that I will love it, done right. My parents made promises that I will enjoy it if I had in Vietnamese cuisine. So fast forward almost exactly 4 years, last weekend while trying out Justine’s, a popular French restaurant in East Austin, I saw escargot on the menu and was excited to try again.

I could have ordered 2 orders of escargot! Swimming in parsley butter sauce, the snails were delicious. The texture was not painfully rubbery like my first time but rather succulent and almost a little like the texture mushrooms. I’m pleased to reprogram my perception of escargot. Thank you, Justine’s.

The escargot at Justine’s

Note: Review for Justine’s is on the horizon!

Question: When was the last time you gave something (food related or not) a chance and was pleasantly surprised?

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  • Escargot has always been one of the items on my list that I would never try, no matter how hard somebody begged me. As someone who regularly had to scrape snails away from her family’s garden, I don’t understand why someone would want to eat that … and as a delicacy, nonetheless! I’m glad you liked them, and the sauce looked delish … but *shudder*.

    • Linda

      Hiya Beth,
      I can totally understand the bias. I think growing up on Asian foods has helped my get over mental blocks of trying new foods. Growin up my parents told me congealed pig’s blood was chocolate… ha! So I’ve found it easy to take that first bite just to see. And now I’ve worked up to trying things 1-2 more times when I dislike something just to make sure. So far frog has been 0/2. Yuck.

      :) as always, thank you for your comments. i enjoy reading them.

  • mef

    I think the hubby has been awesome for opening up my food pov. The first time I ever had goat was when his mom gave it to me. Liver too. Salted cod for breakfast. Ackee remains something that so far only other Jamaicans have even recognized when I talk about it. Sorrel is one of my absolute favorite things and is one of the few drinks with alcohol that I really look forward to.

  • I’ve tried both the Vietnamese and French versions of escargot. Love both. Lucky for Pony, his first try at escargot was great (the Vietnamese version). Like you, being Asian, we’re open to all sorts of food… intestines and all. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) for Pony, he’s stuck having to try all sorts of new food with me, even food that I’ve grown up with are a first for him… which only makes it more fun for me. Hehe..

    As for frogs… you should try the Chinese/ Hong Kong style of cooking frogs… yummm…

    I really should watch the clock whenever I’m reading your food blog. It always makes me hungry…. and there’s still another hour to go till lunch time!!! Hungry!!

  • Mef,
    Mmm. I love goat in indian food and liver is okay. I’ve acquired the taste after many years of parents making me eat it as a child. Never had salted cod. Never heard of Sorrel!

    You are opening up his POV like Mef said about her hubby. There is a pleasure in guiding someone through uncharted territory and a sense of accomplishment when they find themselves liking it!
    Thank you for supporting the food blog/reading :) I appreciate it.
    – Linda

  • I’m totally with Beth here, haha. I’d not even go close to snails :P I did try frog, though. So that was a pleasant surprise, because it tasted good, meat was soft, but the whole beheaded frog looked a bit gross, hehe. It’s funny, I’d love to try the Korean silk worm larva How did I miss this delicious Korean treat, when I was in Seoul? Ah, I’m still sad because of that. Have you or would you try it, Linda? ;)

    • Linda

      I have tried silkworms! in the states at a Korean restaurant. I used to joke to alan that he went all the way to Korea to eat silkworms when he could have just stayed with me ;) They’re not bad. I need to try frog Asian style next. I’ve had frog twice and meh.. both times.
      :) always a pleasure hearing from you MKL no matter the medium,

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  • I’m glad you gave them another chance! Buttery, goodness, I say. And I guess I’m kinda used to the idea of munching on snails. Then again, us Chinese folk eat a lot of “weird” crap, I guess.

  • Nancy

    Just tried escargots at a French restaurant last night and they were super yummy. But I agree, growing up around Asian cuisine, you’re really more receptive to trying things. I mean people freak at eating pheonix claws (chicken feet), when I’m sitting there thinking, “wha?? I’ve been eating this since I was 2). I can’t wait to find a place to try the Vietnamese version.

  • Bugz

    Omg that last pic looks like a dirty public¬†toilet bowl with vomit and poo and pee in it that hasn’t been washed for a decade. How could you eat that? Glad I don’t eat animals.