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Fish - Shellfish

(Although snails are clearly not a fish, they are customarily classified among shellfish, there not being anywhere else to put them)

From 'Edible mollusks of Great Britain and Ireland, with recipes for cooking them' (1867)

Snails have never played a hugely significant part in English cooking, though 'WM' has several receipts for them, so does Bradley 1728 and Eliza Haywood mentions snail broth in 1771. But the greatest snail enthusiast seems to have been Robert May, who, among many receipts, has ...

Original Receipt in 'The Accomplisht Cook' by Robert May, 1660 (Robert May 1660);

To fry Snails.
Take shell snails in January, February, or, March, when they be closed up, boil them in a skillet of boiling water, and when they be tender boil'd, take them out of the shell with a pin, cleanse them from the slime, flour them, and fry them; being fryed, serve them in a clean dish, with butter, vinegar, fryed parsley, fryed onions, or ellicksander leaves fryed, or served with beaten butter, and juyce of orange, or oyl, vinegar, and slic't lemon.
Fry them in oyl and butter, being finely cleansed, and serve them with butter, vinegar, and pepper, or oyl, vinegar, and pepper.
To make a Hash of Snails.
Being boil'd and cleansed, mince them small, put them in a pipkin with some sweet herbs minced, the yolks of hard eggs, some whole capers, nutmeg, pepper, salt, some pistaches, and butter, or oyl; being stewed the space of half an hour on a soft fire; then have some fried toasts of French bread, lay some in the bottom, and some round the meat in the dish.

Snails were once considered a valuable medicine for the lungs, and glass-blowers were prone to lung problems, hence their being served at the annual Newcastle Glassmaker's Feasts in the 19th Century, and prepared into Snail Water as a medicine.

There was a mild attempt to popularise them as Somerset 'wallfish' in the 1960's.

There are a small number (5?) of commercial snail farms in England who supply mainly to eating houses.

See also:
Dressed Snails
Snail Broth
Snail Water
Snail with Herbs
Snails in Sauce

'The edible mollusks of Great Britain and Ireland, with recipes for cooking them' (1867)

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