The escargot (plural escargots, IPA: [ɛs.kaʁ.ɡo], French for snail; Catalan: caragol; Portuguese and Spanish: caracol) is a cooked land snail. Escargots are usually served as a starter in Portugal, Spain and in France, and are a typical dish in the Catalan region of Spain. The word escargot is also sometimes applied to the living snails of those species which are commonly eaten in this way.
In French cuisine, the snails are typically purged, killed, removed from their shells, and cooked (usually with garlic butter, chicken soup or wine), and then placed back into the shells with the butter and sauce for serving. Additional ingredients may be added, such as garlic, thyme, parsley and pine nuts. Special snail tongs (for holding the shell) and snail forks (for extracting the meat) are also normally provided, and they are served on indented metal trays with places for six or 12 snails.
In Maltese cuisine, snails (Maltese: bebbux) of the petit gris variety are simmered in red wine or ale with mint, basil and marjoram. The snails are cooked, and served in their shells.
Like most molluscs, escargots are high in protein and low in fat content (if cooked without butter). Escargots are estimated to contain 15% protein, 2.4% fat and about 80% water.