It’s spring and a naturalist’s thoughts turn to …

… snails, actually.

After the record rains last week (in 24 hours Lismore 139 mm; my back deck 103 mm – although the absolute record for my back deck is 187 mm in 24 hours a couple of years ago; and anecdotally for Ballina, because the automatic weather station broke, over 200 mm), there’s a certain something in the air. Looking for birds last week at the Wilson Nature Reserve in Lismore, I stumbled across this land snail shell …

Pedinogyra rotabilis

Pedinogyra rotabilis

Perusing Stanisic et al.’s Australian Land Snails: A Field Guide to Eastern Australian Species, vol 1 (Bioculture Press 2010, available from CSIRO Publishing) I’m guessing it’s the southern flat-coiled snail (Pedinogyra rotabilis). The flat profile (see the final photo) and distribution make this likely. [Update: The Australian Museum’s malacologist has confirmed this ID.]

Thersites richmondiana_2Thersites richmondiana_3John Stanisic (the “snail whisperer”, author and snail researcher extraordinaire) is interviewed at Radio National’s Conversations. Among many fascinating details, he gives a recipe for escargot which can be made from the introduced European snails that roam our veggie patches. He says a French chef was induced to try it with native snails, but the result was “a black blob”. It could be a way, and I’m sure permaculture folks have already thought of this, to turn a pest into a resource.

I’ve eaten some interesting stuff on my travels:

– bird’s nest soup, bech-de-mer (sea cucumber) and jellyfish soup in Hong Kong

– whale in Japan (bought specially for me as a guest, so I couldn’t refuse – frankly, I don’t see why it can’t be given up: it’s a bit like abalone, more texture than flavour)

– natto (the slimy, stinky, fermented soya beans beloved of many Japanese)

but I’m not yet ready to have a go at European snails. Besides, it’d deprive the local birds and lizards of a feed, wouldn’t it? That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

2 thoughts on “It’s spring and a naturalist’s thoughts turn to …

  1. If you really wanted a nourishing (large) meal you should go for the African snail, endemic on our [South African] East Coast but fortunately not in the Western Cape. Some idiot in the US imported some as ‘pets’ got bored, let them go and now they are invading from the South up, chomping happily. x j

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