Sat, Jun 22, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Slimy business

Polish snail farms are inching toward success

By Anna Maria Jakubek  /  AFP, KRASIN, Poland

“They can probably sense they’re headed for the dinner table,” Kuchta joked, adding that the shy mollusk famous for retreating into its shell likes its personal space and scales the sides to escape the crowd. While Poland’s snail farming is majority export, the tiny creature with a flavor akin to mushroom or chicken was once a fixture of the Polish kitchen.

“Poland’s first cookbook (from 1682) has a handful of snail recipes, and — this is interesting — more than the number devoted to pork,” said food historian Jaroslaw Dumanowski.

“The end of snail-eating and a general collapse of Polish cuisine came about after World War II” given the poverty and communist disdain for anything rich or fancy, he told AFP.

But with today’s higher standard of living, Dumanowski says snails are making a comeback on menus and in supermarkets, if still inching their way into home cooking.

Hoping for a revival of demand at home, farmer Skalmowski notes that today’s dinner table is no stranger to more unusual dishes.

“We eat flaki or beef tripe stew, no? And we also have czernina (soup made from animal blood) right? Which for others is gross. But we eat it,” he said.

Pilat chimed in: “And we make pierogi dumplings with pig lungs. Those are our goodies.” At an event this month, the pair hopes to entice locals with escargot a la polonaise: pierogi stuffed with snail.

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