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When we talk about appetizers that have the seal of approval in Crete, this recipe comes to mind. There is no Cretan who has not tasted this divine flavor with friends at home, in a tavern, in a café or at a special event.

It is from these tastes that we Cretans have inherited from generation to generation from ancient times. It’s an appetizer that richly marries salt and vinegar in hot oil, with the strong scent of rosemary.
The secret here is to put them in the hot oil with the door of the shell facing down. The other secret is that we take the snail out of the shell when they are served to us. So here in Crete we have solved this problem of how to extract the snail from its shell, which is probably not in the book of proper eating conduct! Lightly bend one of the two end teeth of the fork and remove the snail from the shell with the bent end. What people do when they have good friends and appetizers is to enjoy the last trace of sauce in the shell by holding the shell in their hands and sucking it out. I have done it so many times that I no longer care what I may look like doing it. I just want to enjoy its deliciousness! I have to stop writing now because my snails are awake and are slowly making their way along the kitchen work top and so I am anxious to cook them! Let's go enjoy them!

1kg of snails
200ml vinegar
150ml olive oil
Enough salt
3-4 sprigs of rosemary

Put the snails in lukewarm water and let them wake up for a while. If the snails move, it means they are alive. Discard any which don’t move. With a knife, scrape away any dry residue on their shell and remove the membrane that is usually around the opening. Rinse them thoroughly with warm water and allow them to strain for a while.
In a frying pan pour enough salt and place the snails opening down and then turn on the heat.
Add the olive oil and mix and then add the rosemary.
Quench with the vinegar and leave to evaporate completely.
Serve immediately with Cretan raki.

Good luck!!!






Many thanks to Stefano Rapani for his wonderful photos.