Published on March 10th, 2013 | by Ann Rickard


Travel – Spanish Harbour City of Cadiz

Travel – Spanish Harbour City of Cadiz

Travel – Spanish Harbour City of Cadiz

On a recent trip to Spain, Ann Rickard sampled some…but not all…of the local food.

It’s very enjoyable to get pleasantly lost in the labyrinth of streets in the old town of the southern Spanish harbour city of Cadiz. You know you are going to pop out into a square at some point so there’s no stressing at finding yourself hopelessly gone astray.

We wandered the narrow streets, admiring the colourful flower stalls, the trendy fashion boutiques, watching the locals out shopping on a busy Friday morning until we came out in the Plaza de la Catedral.

The grand 18th century structure of the Byzantine-style cathedral dominates the square, and while there is no mistaking its supremacy, the elegant surrounding buildings and serene fountains all add to the charisma.

It was here, amongst the crowds of tourists and old local men sitting on benches, we found a woman at a busy stall selling live snails to a line-up of appreciative customers.Cadiz - old men Her stall was piled with mountains of snails – large, medium, small and tiny – all slithering over each other in slimy sinuous slowness. The gruesome fresh produce was being bought with alacrity by a long line of locals. A nearby demanding toddler in a pram cried to his mother who plucked a couple of the snails from the top of the pile and handed them to him. We watched in morbid fascination as he greedily suck the unctuous bodies from their shells.

As the line of customers grew, the stall owner scooped up a pile of snails in a wide flat pan, and with efficient movements, weighed them and quickly pulled a thin piece of yellow string bag from a long roll, tied a knot in the end of it and then poured the snails into the net bag. Purchase completed. Happy customers off home to prepare their feasts.

“How do you cook them – like the French, with garlic and butter?” I asked one of the cutomers in the queue.

“No, not like the French,’’ he said. “We first prepare them by dousing them in flour. Then we leave them for two days. IMG_0747This cleans out all the dirt from inside the snail. Of course you have to put them in a bowl with a cover with holes in it, otherwise you will have snails slithering all over your house, up on the ceiling. Then after two days in the flour they are ready to cook. We cook them quickly in boiling water and then make a sauce with garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and peppers. We eat them with crusty bread. We love them.’’

“Obviously they are they farmed snails,” I said.

“Oh, yes…but when it rains we love to go out into the field to gather our own snails.’’

We watched the stall holder and her fast hand movements over the piles of slow snails for a fascinating 15 minutes, then scurried off for wine and snail-free tapas at the nearest bar.

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About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.

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