Feasting on Snails in Cantalupo
The tiny village of Cantalupo near Bevagna is famous for snails, in fact there’s not much there except the Ristorante L’umaca D’Oro (“The Golden Snail Restaurant”). Most food festivals – le sagre – take place all over central Italy from springtime to fall but Cantalupo’s Sagra della Lumaca has a winter version as well as the summer festa.
But if you don’t book well in advance, you won’t find seating in the village recreation center during the four-day late February Lumache in Inverno (“Snails in Winter”). We were lucky enough to nab the last two seats on the last festival day.
Though not sharing in Pino’s passione for snails, I joined him for the sagra, always curious to take in a new culinary festival. And what goodness “the locals” cooked and served up at this one!
The only complaint? Too much buonissimo food on the fixed price menu: for 20 Euro per person, dinner included an antipasto, choice of three primi (“first courses”), choice of two secondi. Drinks – wine or water or beer- were extra but for a minimum price. A menu alternativo was also offered – for those not opting for snails. But at most of the plank tables in the crowded dining room, families were feasting on snails.
The tasty antipasto starring snails started off the meal and included a savory soup of fagioli beans and snails, a bruschetta alle lumache, tiny polpette made with snails not beef, even a frittata of snails!
Pino and I chose tagliatelle alle lumache for our first course while Maria Antonietta, sitting at our table, relished the polenta alle lumache. Her husband chose the gnocchi alle lumache – so that they could share tastes
Coming up next? Two choices of secondi – and I knew I’d only have room to taste them at best. Pino opted for the roasted snails and the stewed snails while I chose the roasted ones and the special dish of the evening intrigued: eggplant parmesan with snails in the sauce. Squisito!
Before we left, I wandered the dining room enjoying the scene of all the volunteers serving up the “snail goodness,” many sporting “snail shirts”:
A sagra to remember…..and we won’t miss the summer version!
Click here to read about another good place for snails – and not only
Click here for a note on a great place for snails – and more
Read about a snails food festival
Read about nearby Bevagna