Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snail caviar is toast of French culinary world

He is a former builder who once made a living fitting kitchens. Now Dominique Pierru is being hailed as a gastronomic genius after creating a delicacy likely to mark the history of Gallic cuisine — snail caviar.



France may be the land of l’escargot but never before had anyone come up with a recipe for gastropod eggs capable of satisfying the most demanding palates. Pierru took three years to develop the product after abandoning his fitted-kitchen business to buy a snail farm in Picardy, northern France, in 2004.

He had to find a way of softening the eggs, of conditioning them and of persuading his 180,000 snails to lay enough to make the business viable. The result is being hailed as a triumph, earning widespread acclaim in France and elsewhere, and a place on menus of three-star restaurants as well as an order from Harrods in London.



Named De Jaeger in a tribute to Pierru’s mother, the snail caviar is not cheap, with a 30g jar costing €49 (£44) and 50g priced at €82.The producer says that he expects to sell 300kg this year, compared with 200kg in 2008. Pierru and his wife, Sylvie, decided to develop the delicacy after coming to the conclusion that standard snail farming represented a lot of work for little return. “Everyone thinks that snails are easy because they’re small, but you’re on the job practically every hour of every day.” Nor are French diners particularly appreciative of this labour. Almost all snails consumed in France — the usual way is with garlic and butter — are imported from Eastern Europe, where they are gathered in the wild. He advises eating them with toast and chilled champagne or on a fresh sage leaf

There's a video in English here.

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