Snails, a dish for the elite!

July 25 to 29 – 18th Festival do Caracol

(Snail Festival) Porches, Lagoa

6pm – 1am

Don’t dismiss the idea of going to the 18th annual Festival do Caracol in Porches just because you can’t bear the thought of eating snails.

Think of them not as gastropods, molluscs, shelled creepy-crawlies or slime balls. Expats and holidaymakers from northern climes should bear in mind that what the Portuguese refer to as caracóis and the French as escargots have been savoured since ancient times in the Mediterranean lands as a very special delicacy.

The Romans regarded snails as a dish for the elite. All these centuries later, the tradition of collecting, preparing and eating caracóis is as strong as ever, especially among country folk.  

Picking snails is something of an art form. You need to know where to pick them, where the grazing is best.

Once gathered, they need to be kept in a cool, dark place for a week or so, with just potato peelings for sustenance. That way they ‘clean’ themselves of anything that they have consumed previously, including any impurities.

Then they are usually either boiled with oregano or cooked with bacon/chouriço, onions, olive oil and a bit of tomato.

Snails are summer fare and the focus of an annual five-day festival in the village of Porches in the municipality of Lagoa. The festival is held in the open-air recreation ground just off the EN125.

It’s a fun event with live music and dancing each evening, from 6pm to 1am. There are other things to eat, but included in the small entrance charge is a free plate of snails. Give it a go!