Meet the edible snail of Karpaz and whole Cyprus
While recently hiking in the Karpaz peninsula on the beautiful island of Cyprus, while on the road towards three churches built near the ancient and important city of Urania and recently restored by EU, UNDP, and both Cypriot communities, I found this fantastic snail shell. I immediately presented it with pride to the young Spanish couple I met in the nearby restaurant. They thought that the cover is painted! It is original, and following you have a short history,
They are well known here as “Karaoli,” or “Garavolli,” and the most delicious of them, like the shell’s tenant at the photo, has the size of 4-5 cm across. They feed on flowers growing on some of the beaches here, and their life span is up to, believe it or not, 35 years. Can you imagine if the snails were sold by age, like wine?!
They avoid dry weather and are resting under the vegetation, also protecting themselves from predators. They are popularly cooked and seasoned with garlic, olive oil, and lemon. Cypriots are so passionate that they ask for them even in the UK, where many Greek and Turkish Cypriots found refuge after 1974.
There is a story conveyed to me by the now-deceased Greek Cypriot men, a refuge from the village of “Gaidouras” or ” Nea Sparti,” who had a small but very popular traditional Cypriot restaurant in London.
During the memorable night we spent in his restaurant, he told us the story of how he transported those edible, original Cypriot snails to London, using the plane, of course.
He filed the shoeboxes with flour and positioned as many snails as possible to clean themselves and be ready for cooking when they arrive in London. Many times all the procedures went great and without any issues with UK customs. But one time, when he picked up the boxes at the airport, he noticed that they were lighter than before. When he came to the restaurant and opened the boxes, he saw that nearly all the snails disappeared! He was so concerned that he thought about what would happen if snails did damage to the airplane. However, as no news are good news, no one reported anything, so this adventure passed unnoticed!
It could be that delicious, edible, unique Cypriot snails found their way to the UK fields and mixed with the English variety of snails. No one in England could use it as a marketing point, as our hero kept it as his best-kept secret. It seems that it still is!
There is no other way for genuine snail lovers to feel the taste, except to visit Cyprus or some original Cypriot restaurants in their cities abroad and try these absolutely unique snails! And this only if the owners are trained to properly transport snails and not lose them in the process!
If nothing can still unite Cyprus, maybe the snails and their marketing would be an excellent reason to find a modus vivendi for it!
And about the three churches and ancient town of Urania you will learn next time! Just as a sweetener you can see some pictures
Darko Richard Lancelot
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