Snails on Crete are considered a great delicacy. The most famous recipes are fried snails, which locals call “chochlious mpourmpouristous” or stew.
On Crete, there are two basic kinds of snails collected and brought to our table. The small white snails are gathered during the period of hibernation in the summer, when a paper-like membrane seals their opening.
Thick snails, which are brown and large, are gathered from February to June, when they are naturally plump. The same kind is also gather after their summer hybernation, when they are very thin after having stayed for a long time without food. They feed them porridge or bran for about 10 days and then cook them.
Snails accompany countless dishes, with cooked vegetables with tomato and onion, artichokes and beans, greens, zucchini, even in trachana or xinochontro, as it is called in Crete.
The Cretans wrap dolma stuffed with snails, and also cook moussaka with snails. They prepare them as stew with whole onions and a little sweet sour tomato sauce in skillet with garlic and rosemary, called boumpourista, probably from the sound of live snails when placed in hot oil to fry.
The snails have great gastronomic and nutritional value, as they have a high concentration in inorganic nutrients, essential amino acids and beneficial fatty acids, and are also low in calories. Latest surveys reveal the meat of snails as one of the positive nutritional factors of the Mediterranean diet.