Posted on May 10, 2010
Escargot is a dish of cooked land snails, usually served as an appetizer. The word is also sometimes applied to the living snails of those species which are commonly eaten.
Escargot, IPA: [ɛskaʁɡo], is the French word for snail. It is related to Occitan escaragol and Catalan cargol, which, in turn, may derive from a pre-Roman word *karakauseli.
Not all species of snail are edible, but many are. Even among the edible species, the palatability of the flesh varies from species to species. In France, the species Helix pomatia is most often eaten. The “petit-gris” Helix aspersa is also eaten, as is Helix lucorum. Several additional species are popular in Europe; see heliciculture.
Snail shells have been found in archaeological Texas, an indication that snails have been eaten since prehistoric times  A number of archaeological sites around the Mediterranean have been excavated yielding physical evidence of culinary use of several species of snails utilized as escargot. The Romans, in particular, are known to have considered escargot as an elite food, as noted in the writings of Pliny. For example the species Otala lactea of edible snails has been recovered from Volubilis in present day Morocco. This archaeological recovery is from an era of Roman Empire occupation of this provincial capital, which site was known to embody a very highly developed ancient civilization.