Consider the egg.
Chicken eggs are delicious, particularly if one does not think too much about the fact that hens have only one opening “down there” compared to women’s three, and that roosters and hens are not particularly romantic with one another.
But snails! Ah, snails not only lay edible eggs, they have love lives! Indeed, their lovemaking lasts a good deal longer than that of most humans.
Prior to reproduction, most pulmonate land snails perform courtship behaviors before mating. The courtship may last anywhere between two and twelve hours. In a number of different families of land snails and slugs, prior to mating one or more love darts are fired into the body of the partner.
Love darts! Love darts! Just like Cupid! And snails have an orifice specifically for reproduction, so snails are cleanly, compared to fowl. Or men, for that matter. (Now there’s a word that ought to be used more often as an adjective rather than its more common usage as an adverb: Cleanly.)
All this raises the appeal of edible snail eggs, or caviar d’escargot, also known as white caviar. The story of how it is produced is fascinating. Unlike fish caviar, no slaughter is involved. It’s humane luxury food!
Each snail produces a mere four grams of caviar per year. Oh la la, so decadent! (For comparison, an American nickel weighs five grams.) The minuscule quantities of snail caviar remind me of tales of corrupt aristocrats eating roasted little birds whole, but without the perversely nasty part about first catching them in nets, force-feeding them, and drowning them in cognac, leading the eaters to cover their heads in shame. Oh dear, no. The snails are themselves like corrupt aristocrats, given luxuriant beds to breed in. (At least luxuriant by snail standards, I think.)
The promotional language is florid, my translations rough. Click to hear a cartoon computer blonde read it poorly:
Découvrez le plaisir d’avoir en bouche un produit exceptionnel et incomparable. La sensation unique d’une éclosion sur votre palais et le goût inoubliable d’une escapade au cœur d’une forêt de chênes. Une saveur subtile aux parfums de champignon, de bruyère et d’écorce d’arbre.
Discover the pleasure of having in your mouth an exceptional and incomparable product. The unique sensation of a burst upon your palate and the taste of an unforgettable getaway in the heart of an oaken forest. A subtle scent perfumed with mushrooms, heather, and tree bark.
Or click to hear another promo read poorly, which I have translated roughly:
Les sensations en bouche d’une ballade en forêt après la pluie, arômes de champignon, de sous bois feuille de chêne, fumet de la tourbe, de mousse humide. L’aspect du caviar d’escargot, la forme des grains, la saveur subtile, douce et longue en bouche va vous permettre de nouvelles créations.
The mouth feel of a walk in the forest after the rain, the aromas of mushroom, the undergrowth of oak leaves, the scent of peat, of damp moss. The look of the snail caviar, the shape of the grains, the subtle flavor, sweet and lingering in your mouth, will allow you new creations.
I have to stop now and dab my forehead. Is it me or is it getting warm in here? I am breathing deeply. An unforgettable getaway… a walk in the forest after the rain… a subtle scent, a subtle flavor… ah, the burst of pleasure in my mouth! My lips twitch and I swallow hard.
I could afford an ounce of this, whispers my inner glutton. It’s delicate, not gross like chowing down on a meatball in a diner. It’s humane food. You would be supporting small business! The experience would be worth it. Wouldn’t it? You’re a sophisticated person, aren’t you?
It would be so simple. I wouldn’t even have to refrigerate the snail caviar (anyway, I can’t; I don’t have a kitchen). I’d just open the box like a casket of precious jewels, open the jar, and with a few lingering mouthfuls it it would be gone, leaving behind memories of the scent of forest undergrowth, and a hole in my pocket. No junk left to add to my crowded room.
Sensing how I am leaning toward this purchase, my inner glutton shouts in triumph: You just spent more money than that for a ticket to a performance of the Bach B minor Mass!
Oh, what a hubristic overreach to compare Bach’s work of adoration of the divine to this little jar of self-indulgence. Well, that settles that. No. Just no. This is too decadent for even me. I shall satisfy myself with the sensually suggestive promotional language. For me, $65 plus express shipping is too much for one ounce of food.