Considering how nonchalant my child was about eating an entire pig's foot, it shouldn't be especially shocking to learn that he didn't bat an eyelash when sampling snails the other night, and proceeded to polish off almost the entire plate of those chewy slugs.
At the time we were dining with Grandpa Joe ( an unabashed snail fan) and C. who happily kept his distance from the dish. Since they were the only witnesses to this culinary milestone I couldn't wait to share it with others, especially his papa. I gushed over Izzy's gleeful eating experience and when finished, the reply I received left me dumbfounded.
"How do you know they weren't calves' lungs? You must have heard that the French snail population is scarce and many restaurants have been using substitutions. Apparently most people can't tell the difference between snails and calves' lungs since they have the same texture."
I had to question this esoteric tidbit. From where did he glean this information? What proof did he have? I resolved to research it for myself and found that my husband must have gained access to this antiquated news story, straight from the New York Times of 1908. Yes, a century ago, those French were scarfing down snails like there was no tomorrow, leaving a dearth of snails. Nothing left to do but make the old calves' lung substitutions.
Could it be that the very same act of culinary treachery is going on today? If you have any knowledge of this, please send it along. Until then I will still kvell over Izzy's first snail sampling.
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