It isn’t only the French that have a love affair with snails. As summer arrives in Portugal, locals anxiously await the time when the “Há Caracóis” signs are posted outside of their local restaurants announcing “There are Snails.”
The recipes for Portuguese snails in no way an imitation of French escargot. There are of course variations, but basically, Caracóis are cooked up in a flavorful, oregano spiced, broth, then drained and stirred with a little chorizo, garlic, onion, laurel, thyme, olive oil, maybe a little tomato, salt, pepper and of course, spicy Piri Piri. Portuguese snails are much smaller than their French counterpart and, although the intrepid forcefully suck and nibble the little critters right out of the shell, toothpicks are also provided for the task.
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I still love my the French snail recipes, but snails Portuguese style offers a spicy and flavorful alternative. They are perfect as a bar snack or, with patience, as a meal on their own. Although I had these Caracóis with a Sagres beer, next time I think I will try them with a white wine from the region where the recipe originated; Alentejo.