Eating Snails (Caracóis) in Portugal

Snails in Portugal

Snails known as Caracóis here are served throughout the summer in pretty much every cafe in Portugal. It is a staple food that we would equate to a happy hour dish. Generally consumed with a nice cold beer such as a Sagres or Super Bock in your local cafe.

The snails here are not like your traditional escargot you would picture in your mind when you think of snails. They are tiny, usually around a half an inch in diameter. Unlike what you might have tried in the past they are not swimming in butter and garlic.

You are served a bowl of roughly 100 of these little guys and they are cooked in a broth generally with a lot of rosemary thrown in. But the final flavoring can vary regionally of course with some locals adding Piri piri to spice things up a notch.

Consistency wise these little snails are not chewy at all, it reminds me both in taste and texture of eating a nice sauteed mushroom.

Now if you are Portuguese or realistically from a lot of other countries in the world these probably sound delightful. From our US point of view where we are generally not raised eating snails, it can take a bit of mental work to get over visualizing what you are eating. I suggest not using a toothpick to remove them first and see their head and antennae but just slurp them out directly from the shell.

I wish I could say we jumped in with no reservations on the snail trail. Realistically though we have been here two years and just got the courage to give them a try. If you find yourself presented with the option to order a bowl, I highly suggest you try them yourselves. Pricing can range from a couple of euro’s outside of the tourist areas to 6 or 7 in a place like Lisboa.

Avatar for Jed Stafford

Started dreaming of travel after a high school field trip through Europe. Has been lucky enough to explore the world with his family.

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