Snails (giant African species) constitute a major ingredient in Nigerian cuisines. From the ‘desliming’ to the cooking of it, much effort is put into the preparation of snail dishes. Snails have their pride of place on the Nigerian delicacies list; and they don’t come cheap. The French also savour their consumption, as they do in countries like Spain, the Philippines and some parts of the US (list not exhaustive). They are the farmer’s nightmare in the UK and don’t form part of the country’s traditional meals. Personally I just don’t eat them. Snails are sold in African shops in the UK, but by a stroke of luck, I’ve not seen snails on a plate for 17 years. Aesthetically, they are just…(you decide). For me, there’s something about their shells…Ugh! I still shudder at the thought of their tentacles retracting with touch. I remember my grandma buying them once to prepare a meal. The next morning, they were all over the walls. There were slime trails everywhere. I recall freaking out and running out of the kitchen, a ridiculous move considering their speed. I’ve tasted snails in the past, and I hated them. I just didn’t get the essence of eating them.
The Wow Factor
Now I’m older and horizontally taller, I pay more attention to the healthy things in life. I occasionally browse the internet for healthy recipes, and that was how the consumption of snails slithered its way into my thoughts again. Nutritionists credit snails with providing a low calorie source of protein; required to help build and repair muscles. They are also rich in iron necessary for increasing red blood cells count, and improving energy levels. Snails also have high levels of vitamin B12 and magnesium. The latter is required to regularise heart rates, maintain normal blood pressure and strong bones. Snails are rich in Omega-3, which is good for the heart. Although we don’t need much selenium in our bodies, snails provide some needed to maintain our immune system, and protect our cells. Some studies found that the slime from snails is actually good for regenerating the skin. Companies actually sell snail slime in jars.
I’m still uncertain about eating snails. I may try some when I go to Nigeria on holiday. Nigerians take time in cleaning snails until there’s no slime left; which is good because snails have been linked to an infection called schistosomiasis or snail fever. If untreated, schistosomiasis may cause bladder cancer. More so, they remove the shells before cooking them!
I must admit that my new found discovery of the nutritional and aesthetic benefits of snails, is somewhat surprising to me. Who knew?! It just proves that you cannot judge a snail by its cover…or slime.
Pictures courtesy of Google images