An Easy Harvest
It didn’t take long to realize why they call it a snail harvest, not a snail hunt. There’s not much hunting involved. Here in Umbria, the snails come out in force after a rain, and they enjoy their slow motion romp through a freshly rinsed, leafy playground. In gardens, they cling to the shady undersides of lettuce and chicories long after the morning sun creeps over the green mountains in the distance. For those with a headlamp or an alarm clock, these snails, lumache in Italian, make an easy harvest.
Porcini mushrooms put up a far greater defense, blending in with the forest floor, only springing to life at just the right moment, in the just right places, after the perfect amount of rain. These snails seem to relish the opportunity to be plucked from their slimy tracks, boiled with salt and sprigs of wild fennel, and then sauteed with rosemary, white wine, and garlic.
And for the snails that don’t aspire to be an appetizer, they enjoy living in a region with a lot of other good things to eat. Snails are not wildly popular in Umbria. All the better: if these slow, toothless creatures had more appeal, they would probably be extinct.