About Jimena de la Frontera, the province of Cadiz and Spain as a whole, focused on this small village in the mountains


Caracoles 001
The sign above announces the availability of snails (this one at Bar El Cielo, though you will find them as good at La Cuadra, Bar Pérez, Bar Mena, and plenty of other places.) These snails, or caracoles, are not your French (alleged) delicacy they call ‘escargot’, but a smaller common-or-garden (yes, your garden) variety. Often as not, they are imported from Morocco, which the experts say are not as good. Prospero will no doubt be chastised for bringing this to your notice now because we are coming to the end of their season: they flourish after the spring rains. However, yours truly confesses he has never tried them, though his son is one of the experts consulted. There is something about slimy things he doesn’t appreciate…

Nevertheless, the secret apparently lies in their being thoroughly washed before putting them to cook, on medium heat, with garlic, onion, salt, water, red and green peppers and olive oil. The result, Prospero is prepared to believe, is a delicious ‘juice’ (in the glass in the photo) best tasted with fresh bread, having scooped out the snail meat from each tiny shell with a toothpick – you can suck it out noisily, too. And they do, they do.

The expression ¡caracoles! is an old fashioned rendition of ¡caramba! (almost exclusively Latin American), which in turn is a way of not saying ¡carajo!, a colloquial expletive used in such phrases as: ¡No entiendo un carajo! (I don’t understand a damn thing!); ¡Los caracoles están del carajo! (The snails are bloody brilliant!) – you get the gist. Mind you, as in English, euphemisms and linguistic avoidance tactics are becoming a rarity.

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