Snails and slugs
Posted by Patsy Frederiksen
Sitting on a local bus last week, I overheard two women discussing snails. One said she had seen many of them crawling all over the recently-vacated old surgery at Thrush Hill in Mytholmroyd. She related this information in low, awed tones - which triggered off (for me) imagined, doom-laden sounds similar to the 'dum dum dum dum' of Jaws. I played with the idea all day (Get A Life!) - had they been lurking in the shrubbery ready to take over, those rather endearing creatures with houses on their backs? Oh, I KNOW they're just as destructive as slugs (upon which I wage war) so this affection for them is illogical. Also, I've eaten escargots in the past, very good in garlic butter, which makes affection dafter still.
Later on that afternoon I saw a huge snail on our (first floor) bathroom window - dum dum dum dum! - and rushed outside so see if we were being taken over too. Sigh of relief - there were no others. Had word got around the snail population that we were vacating? Was he/she/it a 'scout' sent to case the joint? Were thousands waiting all around in the long, wet grass to crawl all over the house? I prised him/her/it off the glass and carried him/her/it to the wilderness part of the garden (almost all of it) for release, all the while explaining that we lived there, had no plans to vacate, and we didn't want to be crawled over.
That night I dreamt of snails - dum dum dum dum. What is going on? Are they planning a take-over? Are they really slugs who've adopted a masterful disguise because gardeners hate them? Why don't they (slugs AND snails) stick to grass as a diet? For centuries they must have eaten only grass and wild plants - rocket and lettuce weren't grown here in the middle-ages, were they? Their taste has become as sophisticated as ours - why? Do they lurk about watching us plant things and sort of KNOW that the plants we take trouble with must be better than their ordinary diet? What do slugs and snails eat in areas where no salads are grown? Do they migrate here? Is the word out that many Upper Calder Valley gardeners are organic and don't use slug pellets. "Hey! Head for the UCV, they're all mad, they plant succulent stuff just for us".
I always understood that snails only thrived in hard-water (chalky) parts of the country, in places where they could manufacture strong shells. In recent years I've noticed quite a number of large ones locally which look like French escargots. How are they making their shells? Could we eat them if they were properly prepared? I once read that the French put them on trays of moist oatmeal for a while prior to cooking - to clean them out, I suppose. Sounds fine, the prisoner ate a hearty meal..... Are our snails like the French ones? Does anyone know?
For that matter, has anyone ever thought of eating slugs, which appear to be snails without shells? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could? Imagine it! Soon, the local dank places would be full of slug-hunters with huge buckets collecting a local delicacy. A bit like truffle-hunters, each hunter would have a secret place, carefully planted with salads as bait, to entice the largest, plumpest ones. (Upper Calder Valley Slugs are usually large and plump anyway - a friend once described them as being like black Jack Russell dogs which snap at the feet of passers-by.) Slugs would become rare! We could grow gorgeous salads without the tragedy of always seeing them destroyed. We could sell the choicest (slugs) to local restaurants to be served 'on a bed of dock pudding' with a suitable coulis concocted from another local pest. Gourmet tourists could boast they had travelled to the 'source' to taste fresh slugs in situ. To increase tourism, first-grade fresh slugs would not be sold out of the area. We could post look-outs at entry points to turn away Michael Winner and AA Gill.
This is the way forward!! We could sell freeze-dried (inferior grade) slugs on the internet! This is a seriously good idea - through clever marketing other communities have managed to pass off their unwanted rubbish to a gullible public, why not us? Eventually we'd have imitators, but by then we would have established a World's First for quality - Upper Calder Valley Slugs would be the 'Creme de la Slug' of slugs - we'd have set The Standard. Free-range slugs, not farmed. Organic only if harvested on organic land. In time we could consider farmed slugs to provide a cheaper range for selected supermarkets, but personally I feel this would devalue the brand. Maybe damaged or smaller slugs could be sold as 'Pennine' slugs.
Of course, we'd have to have a closed season so that hedgehogs, badgers etc., could get their fair share. There'd be a long gaol sentence for out-of-season poachers. Perhaps we'd need a hunt moratorium every few years to allow slugs to re-establish themselves. That year we wouldn't eat our salads - they'd be sacrificed to increase slug numbers. Goal sentences for salad-eaters during those years, of course.
How I've digressed. This started with the idle desire to share a few snail thoughts, thereby postponing what I really should be doing on yet another rainy afternoon. Then, suddenly struck by genius, I conceived a bold idea for the economic regeneration of the entire area! Every cloud has a silver lining.......in this case GOLD?!!! Mega-riches and the control of a pest at a stroke!
Fingers hover over the 'post message' button - shall I share these valuable thoughts with you? - some horrible person might steal my unique idea and claim it - it's a tough world out there, slug eat slug.
Decision made - I'll post it. After all, it's like a copyright, it's timed and dated, isn't it? In less than one minute I'll have launched a totally original concept upon the entire world via the discussion pages of the Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge websites! If this earth-shattering, money-making idea is taken up by anyone else, here, or in any other part of the world - I'll SUE. I'm not, however, averse to reading further contributions - ideas about marketing Upper Calder Valley Slugs would be welcome, maybe serving suggestions? A snappy slogan? - I can't be the only genius (modest cough) in the area, or can I? From what, for instance, could the coulis be made? Oh, how I wish the rain would stop! The grey cells are exhausted, I'm off for a cup of tea. Now, there's an idea, Slug Tea....... Last thought, then I WILL go, I've seen day-glo red/orange slugs in Denmark - HUGE things, much larger than our largest. So we'd have to be aware of the foreign competition - the Danes are so good at marketing
Posted by Tim
That is the stupidest most pointless article I have ever read; I cannot believe you could be bothered to write it. Slugs and snails, as I am sure you know, do not organise themselves, do not send out scout snails to do missions and they do not squat in disused buildings doing shady dealings. Get a job.
Posted by Janice Sayer
I came across this recipe for slug fritters which someone might be brave enough to try...maybe we could host the "International Slug Pudding Festival" as part of the Arts Festival. If any of you out there have strong stomachs, the website to look at is http://bertc.com/recipes.htm
Anyway, here it is:
First chop the slugs into fine mince, then beat the eggs and egg yolks with the heavy cream together. Sift the dry ingredients and then cut 2 tbs of butter into that mixture. Add the egg and cream mixture to the dry ingredients and whip with a whisk vigorously for one to two minutes. Melt one tbs of butter in a sauté pan and pure the batter into 2 1/2 inch cakes in two batches. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream.
Yields 4 servings.
Posted by Mick
Posted by Janice Sayer
Looks like the invasion has already started!I'll keep this brief as I don't want to be accused of being irrelevant or wasting webspace. Today's Halifax Courier has the headline "My house of slugs: dad's horror as slugs crawl inside". Apparently a Halifax family are thinking of quitting their home after it was invaded by thousands of slugs. Will Hebden Bridge be next? Perhaps we will all have to move into tree houses...now that's an idea (not a very good one perhaps).