Mont-Fallère-(2)

“Breeding snails is more complex than what you would think: even if they are slow, they are small agitated animals, and always try to escape”
Gaetano Aiello

Snail meat is low fat, savory, easy to digest, and versatile: that’s why it is increasingly appreciated, and many new snail farms are opening. One of these new businesses has been established by Gaetano Aiello, who decided to breed – like the farmers used to do in their house gardens in the past – the Pomazia species (typically found in the Aosta Valley), which is sturdy and capable to adapt to the cold winter temperatures. In his farm in the small village of Gignod, snails slither inside big fenced areas that closely resemble the natural environment. Here the animals find both food (cabbage, salad, and sunflower) and the plants that provide an appropriate shelter (chicory and clover). Most of the activities of these animals take place at night, when snails come out of their shells to eat and move around slowly but incessantly. Snails tend to be agitated and somehow “rebel”: they always try to escape. After Gaetano collects them by hand, the snails are washed, shelled, and sold pre-cooked in glass jars or cooked in sauces made in partnership with the Aosta Valley chef Mirco Zago, who currently lives and works very successfully in Russia and has reinvented a few traditional recipes using snail meat. ©Dispensa