Tuesday, September 12, 2006


The Snail - My gastronomical nemesis

Over the last six years in Vietnam I have eaten in the high hills with country peasants in the back of beyond, complete strangers on plastic stools in grungy back street beer joints and a toothless granny on the steps of my house. I have eaten the congealed blood of a duck, goat testicles, dog brain sauce, the heart of a snake, crocodiles, cockroaches, scorpions and even a poor innocent tortoise – but for the love of God please do not tell my future children that last one. However only once, has my stomach churned, literally, and that was down to the oc (snails) that crawled out of Hanoi's West Lake, on to my plate, down my oesophagus gullet, through my stomach, past my intestinal pipes and out my behind (along with everything else), all within the space of about 10 to twelve minutes (I wasn’t really counting). The snails didn’t taste so bad – chewy morsels, like muddy clams, which are dipped in lemon, salt and fresh chilli after being plucked out of their shell with a wee metal tooth pick. But the hygiene was obviously short of the mark in the colossal snail restaurant where, seemingly, thousands of young countrysiders’ work, washing the dishes and snails in suspect water. The wonderfully picturesque West Lake is itself a grand old polluted hole. Anyway, I'd only eaten a handful of the little blighters before my normally hardy stomach sent out distress signals by gurgling uncontrollably. Then cramp set in. I muttered we had to leave to my partner who scurried down the steps with me. Luckily for me, my trousers and my pride, my house at the time was also on West Lake. I raced home and opened the gates with shaking hands. Inside I unbuckled my belt and ran for the downstairs loo with my trousers slipping down to my ankles. I made it, just, and the relief was nothing less than Biblical. As I sat in the dark I realised I was still wearing my helmet. Then I flushed the snails straight back to where they probably came from.

By Teddy de Burca Jnr.

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This piece originally appeared in Raised Eyebrows - Melbourne's
favourite A3 magazine created by illustrator Paul Oslo Davis
It's his picture of a snail at the top, click on it for a BIG version


4 comments:

LE RIZ LA said...

i seem to remember a day when the brussels sprouts, or was it a pita street deluxe, or maybe a pint or two of the black stuff in o'reilly's, caused a bit of a scene. i believe they call it a double ender....

pittstop designer said...

Yes, i wasn't a blogger in those days, but somewhere there's a handwritten account, the culprit was a Thai restaurant somewhere opposite the Bizon (Bison?) Bar plus copious amounts of booze in the Bizon Bar itself.

teddy said...

..of course, should point out my partner had no complaints.

oslo davis said...

Looks good - did you end up putting it in time out?