what is an escargotière?
In English, an escargotière is a ranch or “snailery” that raises snails for consumption. Snails are an ancient food, enjoyed by humans for time immemorial and maybe even one of the first “domesticated” livestock. History records the Romans enjoying snails and raising them in pens, fattening them on milk and wine. Recent archeological finds discovered a trove of snail shells that had been cooked and consumed by Paleolithic humans in Spain more than 30,000 years old. It’s time to rediscover this ancient delicacy!
For hundreds of thousands of years, snails have been a tasty source of protein. Early Romans began raising snails in elaborate escargotière, gorging them on milk and grain to fatten them. In the 18th century, escargots came to symbolize a cultural elite. This portrayal, however, is inaccurate as the role of escargots (which simply means “snails” in French) is truly a food of the common people as they were a seasonal delicacy that was gathered from the wild by the peasantry. The goal of little gray farms is to once again “democratize” snails as a food for everyone to enjoy by raising them locally and in tune with nature’ s rhythm and to incorporate them into the mainstream diet in dishes that are visually appealing and a culinary delight.
what kind of snails?
We use what are commonly referred to as the petit gris snail, known in English as the “little gray” snail (get it? little gray farms?!). Scientifically they are called Cornu aspersum (or Helix aspersa, depending on what side of the Latin binomial fight you’re on). What many people are used to are the gros gris, or “big gray”snail. While the gros gris are larger, they also are chewier which can be a bit oft-putting to first timers. This chewiness is accentuated when they have been canned. The petit gris are not only more tender, but much more adaptable to different climates, domestication and generally more proliferate.
where are we?
little gray farms’ primary spot is located in Quilcene, Washington, in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains on the eastern shores of the Hood Canal. We also have a location in Seattle where the snails are cleansed prior to processing and delivery.
This location is nearly the exact latitude of the rich farming region of Burgundy, France, still prime real estate where quality escargots are raised today. little gray farms uses the “full-circle” practice of raising escargot in open, outdoor pastures, providing a balanced and biologically complete growing process. This ensures a product that is natural, nutritious, tasty, and a pleasure for your palate.
who are we?
little gray farms began as an idea nearly 30 years ago when founder Ric Brewer first ate – and loved – escargots. We primarily service restaurant accounts in the greater Seattle area.
The majority of escargots consumed in the United States are canned, commonly imported from Europe, Indonesia, North Africa or Eastern Europe, usually of dubious origin and quality. Some labeled “Product of France” may not have even been grown there, only transported and canned in France in order to get that designation.
After many years of planning and research (Ric has more than 15 years of malacological experience) the farm was launched in 2011. We focus on producing escargots for sale to restaurants.
For answers about snail farming (heliciculture), visit the Snail Raising Association of North America
For Commonly Asked Questions, please visit here>>
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