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 Great Leaping Frogs

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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Great Leaping Frogs   Wed 16 Oct 2013, 11:04

Archaeological dig at Stone Henge has proven that the British were eating frog legs 8,000 years before the French! Although how they know that the French weren't eating the big juicy legs back then also, I'm not quite sure. Does anyone know how long frog legs have been a part of French cuisine?

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/10/2013/wiltshire-dig-reveals-frogs-legs-eaten-british-8000-years-french
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Great Leaping Frogs   Wed 16 Oct 2013, 12:55

I suspect frogs' legs, whether in France, Slovenia & Croatia (where they are also a speciality) or indeed the whole of Europe, have always been consumed on occasion, especially by the poor and by those living near inland fens and waterways, where frogs may have started simply as a by-catch of regular fishing with nets and traps. As such - like snail-eating in England, which I know has gone on for centuries in at least Somerset and Sussex - frogs' legs probably just don't get mentioned in early recipe books which were written solely for wealthy.

In France they do not seem to have been widely consumed before about the 16th century ... which was also when the British started contemptuously calling the French 'Frogs' or Frog-eaters', although they were certainly being eaten as long ago as the 12th century (when frogs were classified as fish and so could be eaten on non-meat days):

The Guardian - A short history of frog eating
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Great Leaping Frogs   Wed 16 Oct 2013, 15:24

Well as frogs love the water so they could be put into the same category as fish (at a stretch) if one is sick to death of church fasting regs. Smile 

Thanks for the info MM, it is pretty much as I thought. Similarly snails were/are a great peasant food in Greece and a valuable source of protien in times when meat was a luxury few could afford. I didn't see frog legs being that much different whether eaten in England or France.

Here is how snails are killed, prepared and cooked. Well one of the ways to cook snails anyway, there are a few different receipes. Not that I'm ever going to try any, but people say they are very nice. 

http://www.organicallycooked.com/2008/06/snails-in-tomato-stew.html
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Great Leaping Frogs   Wed 16 Oct 2013, 16:28

Snails are very popular here in French Catalonia and when the weather is damp you often see people poking around stone walls and hedgerows gathering them. They are not the big fat Roman/Burgundian snails but just the ordinary garden snail. A common way to cook them here (after starving and rinsing) is also in tomato sauce. They're also the main feature in communal village snail barbeques, the 'cargolade', that tend to occur in late Summer/Autumn when the weather is damper and the snails are still plump on summer plants. Personally while I do like Bourgundian snails with loads of garlic butter, I find the grilled ones to have rather a strong and none too pleasant taste. I have prepared and eaten snails from my own garden but I do them with garlic butter, or just add them to a paella.

As I said I have encountered garden snails in old regional English dishes from Sussex and Somerset, where they are usually known as 'wallfish'. And there used to be (some 20 years ago now) a restaurant in Wells, Somerset, that served locally caught Mendip snails. The big edible/Roman/Bourgundian snail does occur in England but the only place that I've ever found them in sufficient numbers for a meal was at Box Hill in Surrey.

I think all species of snail in Europe are edible and they are as you say, ID, full of protein, if not that much in an individual snail. Hence I guess they have always served as poor people's food and in times of famine. I remember in Louis de Bernier's "Capatain Correlli's Mandoline" the Kefalonian islanders were forced to live mostly on snails when the island was occupied and all the fishing boats commandeered by the Germans. 

It was just two years ago, when my partner died and all the bank accounts were frozen, that I too was forced to eek out my rations by foraging for free wild food, hence my collecting snails from the garden, along with nettles, dandelions, wild mushrooms, loads of chestnuts etc. And rambling off the subject a bit further, amongst all the current doom-mongering about economic meltdown, I at least can take some comfort from William Cobbett's "Rural Rides", in that he observed that those people in Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, Wiltshire who lived in mixed agricultural districts with plenty of common woodlands, were consistently better able to feed themselves than those who lived in areas entirely given over to crops or arable pasture. So again, in the agricutural depression after the end of the Napoleonic wars, I guess anyone in the countryside that could, was readily foraging for wild greens, berries, mushrooms, small birds, hedgehogs, fish, snails and indeed probably frogs too.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Great Leaping Frogs   Wed 16 Oct 2013, 18:26

@Meles meles wrote:
In France they do not seem to have been widely consumed before about the 16th century ... which was also when the British started contemptuously calling the French 'Frogs' or Frog-eaters', although they were certainly being eaten as long ago as the 12th century (when frogs were classified as fish and so could be eaten on non-meat days):

The Guardian - A short history of frog eating
By the time of the Napoleonic Wars, the rather more contemptuous "Jean Crapaud", or more often just "Craps" was more in vogue.
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