Escargot (French pronunciation: ɛskaʁɡo), from the French word for snail, is a dish consisting of cooked land snails. It is often served as an hors d’oeuvre and is common in France and parts of India (particularly among the Naga people and Manipur). Escargot is part of the typical cuisines of Cyprus, Malta, Crete, areas of mainland Greece, as well as the North African countries Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Escargot is also consumed in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
Snail shells have been found in archaeological excavations, indicating snails have been eaten since prehistoric times. Archaeological sites around the Mediterranean have yielded physical evidence of culinary use of different species of snails.
The Romans considered escargots an elite food. The edible species Otala lactea has been recovered from the Roman-era city Volubilis in present-day Morocco. More recently, African land snails have been found to be edible.
In the late 1980s, escargots represented a $300-million-a-year business in the United States.