Every culture enjoys unique dishes, and I believe that most people are semi-aware of different gastronomic specialties around the world. Here in France, among the most well-known specialties are escargots and cuisses de grenouille (snails and frog legs). Now, I know what you're thinking: "What!? Gross! How can the French eat those things?" I used to have the same mentality. In the U. S. it is a completely foreign notion to eat the legs off of a little amphibian or even consider swallowing a snail! Well, the French observe a similar incredulity towards Americans and our consumption of fast food.
Now, the image on the right does not do the French delicacy justice. The escargots pictured are in the process of being prepared for dinner and are far from the final result. Escargots are prepared differently, depending upon one's location within France. In Savoie, the region of France that I am currently in, escargots are cooked in a sauce made from garlic, parsley, pepper, and oil. The final result is very delicious. Imagine the taste of typical garlic bread--that's what Savoie escargots taste like. I'll be the first to admit that the texture of the snails is a bit unnerving, but you get used to it after a while. Oh, and if you think that these dishes are commonplace at every meal, you're wrong. The French typically only eat specialties such as escargots a few times a year, usually during the holiday season.
A few weeks ago, Robin and I were running errands in downtown Chambéry. We walked by a fish market (it smelled horrible, by the way), and I noticed that there were
stingrays for sale. Stingrays! To eat. I had gotten used to the idea of eating escargots and cuisses de grenouille--no problem. But stingrays? You can visit the St. Louis Zoo and pet them. You can even buy a button that says "I touched a stingray at the St. Louis Zoo." Why would anyone want to eat one? I noticed that each stingray cost 19,80 Euro--a pricey delicacy indeed! (Roughly $24.27 in U.S. dollars). I immediately asked Robin if eating stingrays is common here. He said no--he'd never heard of anyone wanting to eat a stingray. Interesting to me, because if this market sells them, obviously there is somewhat of a demand for these weirdly shaped sea creatures. Oh well. I'm not that interested in trying stingray anytime soon.