The snails of Crete!

Being French, we think we are the only ones to eat snails. Far from it. Like us, numerous countries enjoy this product, such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, south-west China, northern India, Marocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroun, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, etc., as well as Greece and Crete in particular.  The latter not only consumes snails, but also produces and exports them, even to France.

In our village, as elsewhere in Crete, the inhabitants harvest the snails from the surrounding nature in the months of March and April after it has rained. Then, they feed them on flour or uncooked pasta to fatten them and purge their intestines according to a very precise procedure.

Here the snail is a national dish! You can’t escape it. And it tastes so good!

We are giving you one of Crete’s most traditional recipes: Boubouristi snails, which our chef, Michalis, has prepared for us.

Ingredients (for two or three people):

Snails: 400g
A generous amount of cooking salt
Olive oil: 50cl
Rosemary: a few fresh sprigs or 1 good pinch of dried rosemary
Wine vinegar: half a wine glass


Place the snails in cold water (just cover the snails) with 3 tablespoons of salt.

Then cook them in a saucepan for approximately 20 minutes.

Wash them and, if necessary, remove any small, yellowish residue, which may appear around the edge of the shell. Drain them and place them upside-down (with their opening facing downwards) on a layer of cooking salt at the bottom of a frying pan.  Cook them like this until no water remains in the frying pan.

Then add some olive oil, a bit of salt and leave them to cook for 8-10 minutes, until the snails turn pink. Then add the rosemary (fresh or dried) and leave to heat through sufficiently.

Next pour over the vinegar and after two minutes, switch off and leave them covered to finish cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Now they’re ready to be served!