Can Slithery, Slimy Snails From Whole Foods Become an Art Project?

Categories: Food Art
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Marguerite Gil
From the earth, to the tummy to wearable art made from snail shells

Poking around Whole Foods on Sunset Drive recently, I encountered a highly regarded delicacy that, according to many people's standards, is disgusting, promotes up-chucking, and, if courageously ordered and then viewed on a plate, often becomes impossible to swallow. Man up, wimps, and let those little boogers wiggle around in your entrails!

After all, it's an inexpensive protein source presented in an attractive package. Award-winning chef Andrew Zimmern (from Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods) always says, "If it looks good, eat it!"

According to gourmets and connoisseurs, escargots are a highly appreciated delicacy that should be included in every foodie's menu selection. At 99 cents each and lavishly filled with a buttery garlic-parsley interior, the little slippery snails beckoned from their spiral hiding places in the Whole Foods seafood display case. I accordingly responded with my credit card. Eight of them made their way to my refrigerator one morning, and all became a delicious dinner for this devoted escargot lover.

Maitre d' Patrick Calvarese of La Palme d'Or at the Biltmore Hotel said, "Sadly, we don't get many orders for escargots. Sometimes when they are in season, we offer them here at the restaurant as a free appetizer, but otherwise it's not really a popular menu item. I do know a lot about snails because my uncle raised snails for restaurant consumption, but that was in France. Here, we almost never serve them. Most people don't know that the snails they order in any restaurant are frozen, packaged, and the shells are provided in a separate can. That way the cook can prepare the little critters and stuff them into the shells to give them that look of authenticity when plated. But the truth is that fresh snails are hard to find anywhere anymore."

After happily munching on the mollusks there were eight beautiful, empty golden shells left that just couldn't be thrown away. It made me wonder: In an age when recycling is paramount and throwing usable leftovers into the trash is considered an environmentalist's nightmare, could these snail shells be spared from the dumpster and turned into an art project? The artiste in me devised a creative jewelry project that promised to become a fond memory of a yummy escargot dining experience.



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