The Special Tongs You Need To Properly Eat Escargot

Snails make for an interesting culinary category. Whether treated as a seasonal delicacy as they are in Spain or with refined sophistication as they are in France, they are an important food tradition that stretches back generations. If you've never eaten them before, they can be a bit intimidating when they land in front of you. In fact, in order to enjoy escargot properly, you need a special tool.

Snail tongs are small flatware that are served alongside escargot. These tongs are specifically designed to adhere to the natural shape of the escargot shells, helping steady the snails that can otherwise be rather tricky to eat. Traditionally served swimming in a froth of melted butter, garlic, and parsley, escargot can be very slippery, easily falling through your fingers and clattering onto the plate. The tongs remove the potential for such an occurrence.

Though hardly common outside snail-serving dining establishments, snail tongs could come in handy at home if you have an affinity for these flavor-packed morsels. Regardless of setting, however, you'll need to know how to use them if you're to successfully eat escargot. 

How to use snail tongs

If you order escargot at a restaurant, they will likely come to you served on a special tray that has spherical indentations which fit the snail shells perfectly. Along with your tray, you will receive the special snail tongs and a long, two pronged fork. The fork is used to extract the inner snail meat from the shell.

Take hold of one of the snails with the tongs, and be sure to enclose the tines around the entirety of the shell. Then, use the two pronged fork with your free hand, and pierce the meat. Press down against the rim of the shell for maximum grip and control, and this should help you remove the inner meat whole. It is customary to consume the snail in one mouthful since they are small enough not to require multiple bites to finish.

It is not advised to use your hands and try to suck the snail out of its shell as you would an oyster. This is the etiquette behind eating these morsels, which likely seems strange considering the fact that you're eating, well ... snails. However formal, the practicality of using the snail tongs to steady the escargot as you eat it can hardly be understated — they are useful while also being proper.