Snail hunting. It was one of the children’s favorite activities when I did a homestay in Ghana, Africa. We’d wait until dark, grab flashlights and buckets, and collect as many snails as we could find. For me, it was a way to bond with the children and help out; for them, it was a fun way to catch one of their favorite snacks.
“Im going to cook snail for you,” said Isaac, with a hint of mischief in his eyes.
I smiled, laughing. “Go for it. I’ll try anything once.”
At the time, I meant this, really believing that eating a snail would be no problem. Plus, he promised to fry it, and what isn’t delicious that’s fried?
The next day, just before lunch, Isaac came galloping into my room with two snails impaled by toothpicks, one for me and one for my roommate Demet. I gasped as he handed me one of the toothpicks. They still looked alive. And, where were the breadcrumbs? It didn’t look crispy at all.
“You said it would be fried,”I whined, a little angry at myself for what a baby I was being.
“Yes, I fried it in hot water,” he replied.
I sighed. “So when you said fried you mean boiled…”
I sniffed the snail corpse. It smelled like rubber and moth balls. Going a step further, I took a very tiny bite.
“Bleh!” I spat. It tasted like pure salt and was chewier than gum.
Isaac laughed. He began shouting, “Eat it! Eat it! I made it for you!”
While I did love the fact that one of the children had cooked me lunch, I knew Isaac wasn’t dumb. He knew I’d hate it, but he thought it was funny watching me squirm in discomfort. Honestly, it kind of was.
“Okay, I’m gonna do it,” I promised, preparing myself. “Ready..okay…just..okay, I’m going…now..in one…ahhhh! I can’t do it!”
Demet laughed. “Just do it. I’ll eat it if you eat it.”
That’s when I came up with a genius (okay, and a bit mean, but funny!) idea.
I nodded in agreement. “Okay, on the count of 3 we’ll both eat it. 1…2….3!”
I didn’t move a muscle as I sat there and watched Demet pop the entire fat snail into her mouth. As she chewed, moans, groans, and panting were heard as her face contorted through phases of disgust.
After everyone had calmed down (and Demet had chugged two full bottles of water) we handed Isaac a Sour Patch kid, a sour, sugary Western candy.
“Try it,” I offered. “It’s toffee (candy).”
His expression showed sheer terror as he slowly licked the small treat.
“Yuck!” he shouted, jumping back and throwing the candy on the floor. And to remove the the sour (delicious!) sugar taste from his mouth, he gobbled up my uneaten snail.