When a Nigerian friend of the family was leaving for her home country in December, I asked her to bring back some snail shells. About a week ago, she returned with these shells. I am not familiar with the taxonomy of giant African snails, but I am assuming these are Achatina achatina.
These snails had been collected last December in the town of Isua-Akoko in Ondo State of Nigeria. My friend said they lived in forests, but since she wasn't the one who had collected them, I couldn't get any more specific locality information from her. But when she revealed that they had actually consumed the hapless snails that once occupied these shells while they were still in Nigeria, I got her to give me an abbreviated description of how she prepared her snail dish. I don't think I will ever cook snails, but it's good to know such things. Next time the subject of cooking giant African snails comes up at a party, I will have something to say. So, here is how she did it.
She boiled the snails for about 10 minutes, then removed them from their shells. Then she rubbed and washed them with lime juice (or whatever citrus fruit was available locally) to remove the slime. She cut the cleaned snails into small pieces and then boiled them again, but this time with vegetables, some sort of local melon and hot peppers to create a soup.When I asked her if they ate the entire snail, she didn't know how to describe the parts they discarded. So I drew a picture of what a snail removed from its shell would look like and she pointed at the organs that would be in the spire of the shell.
A review of a Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn in the Village Voice, described the texture of the cooked Achatina as "unbelievably rubbery". Thank you very much, but if I am ever in Nigeria, I think I will stick to vegetables and melons.
*The word for snail in the language of the people of Isua-Akoko.