Snails in Pastry? Yuk!

Best Laugh in Europe

Snails in Pastry?  Yuk!

French snails.  Known as “escargot,” they are a delicacy, rich and a bit squishy, served drenched in butter and garlic.

Approaching the pastry case in a bakery on the Left Bank of Paris, I offered my finest, “Bonjour!”  Ready to order something in my hopeful French, the young woman asked, “What would you like?”   Set aback by her English, I was flustered and studied the case with a frown.  How to choose only one of those delectable, luscious, yummy pastries?  Only one?

My eyes settled on a huge spiral of perfectly baked pastry, swirled with a bright green and dark brown filling.  “Escargot,” it was labeled.  My eyes popped and my stomach turned.  Oh no, I thought to myself, oh, no, that’s just wrong.

“Qu’est-ce que c’est?” I ventured, hoping for reassurance that it wasn’t really snails.  “Oh, that,” she reassured me, “pistachios and chocolate.” 

And so it was, and I sighed with relief and started to laugh.  I laughed so hard I could barely speak to order one.  I laughed at myself for thinking the French would do such a thing, at myself for imagining snails in pastry, laughed at the green and brown filling that might have been. 

It was the finest pastry I had in France.  No, in all of France, Switzerland and Italy.

And what I really loved was the good hard giggle I gave myself.  What a lesson: an unexpected visual, an unexpected filling and flavor, all perfect, as French pastries are.  Just like life, when we’re open to the unexpected.

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