From my dear friend Heather Smith, a profile of a snail-hunter in the Mission District of San Francisco. I’ll just say that Heather was, not so long ago, mostly vegetarian. Mostly. And then the next thing I hear she’s in Thailand eating tarantulas, and now this.
By the time I catch up to him, he is addressing the underside of a tangle of leaves. “Hey buddy,” he says to the gumball-sized snail clinging the bottom.
The snail is silent. It looks like it doesn’t even suspect that its destiny is now to be the amuse-bouche at the $100 a plate wild-foraged Valentine’s Day dinner that Rabins is cooking.
Read about it at the new Mission Local website, one of those newfangled hyperlocal news sites out of my alma mater.
Personally, what I love about hunting snails is how slow and unsuspecting they are. And how well they go with butter. I made snail-stuffed mushroom caps as a child … even then I wondered whether the ones in the back yard were edible. I have collected them from the sea, sauteed in shell, and smashed with rocks like cavewoman. This spring a friend and I will try fattening some apple snails, a flirtation with animal husbandry.