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Snails on Crete.

Back in the old days, while they were in the mountains foraging for greens, country people never let a chance for some free protein pass them by. Gathered in the spring after the rains, when the snails are plump, they are fed on pasta for a month to clean them out, then be transformed into χοχλιοί μπουμπουριστοί (chochlioi boubouristi) fried with flour and hot olive oil, then doused with wine (or better, vinegar) and sprinkled with rosemary. Other recipes add snails to potato dishes or a risotto (already taken out of their shells).

As young people have become more interested in the food of their grandparents, snails have undergone a revival. At the same time fewer and fewer people go into the mountains to nab them. They are now pricey enough for people to start raising them: a farm in Tylissos, southeast of Heraklion, has even made itself into something of a tourist attraction: Snail Farm and Fun!

Text © Dana Facaros

Image by mesaria