The snails were appreciated by the Greeks and Romans; in the Treaty of cuisine of Apicius De Re Coquinaria (I century AD), who used to purge the snails in milk for several days before cooking, until they were swollen so much that it can not fall within the shell, there are several recipes dedicated to snails that he sizzled and roasted to serving them with various sauces.
Marcus Terentius Varro (De re Rustica, III 37 BC) and Gaius Plinius Secundus Pliny the Elder (Naturalis Historia, VIII 77 AD - 79 AD), attest that the rich of the time ate a lot of snails coming from farms where the little animals were fattened with corn flour and herbs. It seems that the inventor of these farms have been (in 49 BC) such Quintus Fulvius Lippinus ('Lupinus' I century BC), which imported snails from all parts of the known world. To satisfy his wealthy clients he created a ferry service, carrying regularly in Rome snails fresh from Sardinia, Sicily, Capri, from the Spanish coast and North African. At his house at Tarquinia, Lippinus (in Italian ‘Lippino’) had numerous nurseries, distinguished according to the different species: in this way could take separately the white "born in the countryside of Rieti," the Illyrian "characterized by extraordinary size," the African "that are very fruitful ", the unspecified soletane" full of a lot of fame. "The idea was soon copied, to have fresh snails, so people usually bred snails in pens near the house, called "cochleari".
"Caput Mundi" in this, Rome taught to the people as taste the snails, by the way they used to breed snails, precisely greased with corn flour and herbs, purged in milk for several days, bred fresh in pens near the house, throughout the Empire people began to talk about this type of farming, such as snails in ‘Roman way’, and the result as the ‘Roman snail’ - ‘Lumaca Romana’.
In the Middle Ages had their importance because they are considered a food "lean", but there is no doubt that at all times they have remained a food appreciated by the farmers. At the beginning of the nineteenth century they fall in French cuisine and delicacies such as snail bourguignon recipe is already widespread in 1840. In Italy the snail is reviewed in each region, each of which has its own basic recipe to cook (usually stewed or sautéed, with or without tomato), in order to obtain a good sauce to accompany polenta or bread.
Now we come back to Rome, where the snails are still bred, to reconnect with our past, our traditions, the essence of an ancient world that belongs to us. A territory that being the same mentioned in ancient texts, makes particular the land, incomparable the climate, and consequently unique the production of snails, here the speciality of the roman snail or 'la lumara romana' how is called in the place and also of something quite new for the world of modern cuisine 'the snail caviar' or 'snail eggs' or 'pearls of Aphrodite', in many different ways in which it is defined, but that also was known in the past and especially in the period of ancient Rome.
The snail caviar is a food suitable for most refined tables, its texture and its size makes it a gastronomic delight. The exquisite and delicate taste make it an excellent culinary delicacy. Now is known all over the world, but is born on fields where is still bred with the ancient formula of the roman snail. That makes its tasting a unique sensory experience still being used, from the kitchen of a high standard developed in the best restaurants and by the best cooks, until to the home hearth where you use the dish for a special occasion or for someone special. Snails, the roman snails and snails caviar, a poor dish, a dish old, today becomes a rich dish, a plate modern, diversified in the Italian cuisine, diversified in the French cuisine, but still tasty and nutritious as it once was. Wherever you go and ask a dish of snails or caviar snails, remember that everything was born 2000 years ago, near Rome, in your past, so taste what you eat and reconnect with your past.
Buon appetito what else!
Roman snails (‘Ciumacata’) with snails caviar
Ingredients for 4 people:
500g/17.63oz Peeled tomatoes
50g/1.76oz Snails Caviar
2 cloves of garlic
Fry garlic and oil, and, as soon as the garlic is golden, remove and add the anchovies, tomatoes made into pieces, mint, salt, pepper and chilli. When the sauce has thickened, add the snails clean (before cooking) and simmer for at least an hour, adding water if necessary. Before serving add caviar snails on the inlet of the shell on taste.