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The snails show up with the arrival of Summer. In May or June we can find nets with gastropod molluscs hanging by some restaurants’ doors. These announce the return of one of the most appreciated appetisers and of the Festivities of Lisbon.
This delicacy emerges with the warm season of the year and, it is at the end of it that, unfortunately, it disappears.
So make sure you enjoy the good weather and this tasty delicacy.
Enjoy the flavours of the Portuguese cuisine in Lisbon’s traditional places. Click here to find out more.
About this Mollusc
It is known that since the time of the Roman Empire that snails were consumed, with more emphasis on the areas that are now the Iberian Peninsula and France. But what it seems is that its consumption goes back to the time of our gatherer ancestors.
Nowadays, this mollusc is part of the gastronomy of many zones of Europe, like the world-renowned roasted escargots, from the French cuisine.
Here in Portugal, this delicacy is most appreciated in the centre and south, with preference for the smaller snails.
The people of Lisbon enjoy eating them on the terraces of traditional restaurants, cervejarias (restaurants that serve seafood and traditional dishes in which beer is the main drink) or kiosks, usually in the late afternoon after a day well spent at the beach. This way they enjoy the magnificent light of Lisbon and the mild climate that characterises this city.
A cold imperial (draft beer) is the best to go with snails, caracoletas (bigger snails) or other petiscos that are fortunately available all year round. It is the case of pipis (chicken giblets), moelas (gizzards), pica-pau (small beef pieces), saladas frias de orelha de porco, de ovas ou de polvo (cold salad of pig’s ear, fish roe or octopus), bifanas (pork steak sandwich), pregos (beef steak sandwich)…
About the Snails, a Delicacy Loved by the People of Lisbon
These are cooked on a low heat with salt and oregano. Afterwards, the cooking is finished in a broth composed by onion, bay leaf, garlic, white wine and olive oil. Some people add a bit of chorizo and chilli to make the flavour even more intense.
The caracoletas are bigger and are roasted with salt and served with a sauce, usually of mustard.
To try them, you just have to pay attention to the small posters improvised by the door of restaurants or in their shop windows.
You can opt for a smaller dose served in a small dish or for a bigger dose served in a stainless steel platter.
Cutlery is not used, as the snails are removed from the shell with the help of a toothpick or with a metallic one, in the case of the caracoletas.
You can rest assured that snails are a healthy food, seeing that they are rich in proteins and low in fats and calories. Mineral salts such as magnesium, iron, zinc and copper are also its components.
Just a WARNING! It is a healthy food as far as snails are concerned, excluding the broth that cooked them. We understand those that don’t resist dipping bread in this delicious sauce. ☺
We suggest you read our article about the Traditional Flavours of Lisbon that will elucidate you on the origin of the typical dishes of Lisbon.
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