• I saw a popular Maine mom serving her kids periwinkles for dinner on an Instagram video.
  • They are an invasive species and also filled with protein so I decided to give them a try.

I am a mom of three toddlers, ages 4, 2, and 2, and getting them to eat new things is a constant battle. I recently saw another Maine mom feeding her children of similar ages sauteed periwinkles — or sea snails — and thought mine would never consider trying them.

Fast forward a couple of months, and my family was visiting a remote island in Maine where these sea snails are hiding in every rock and seaweed. After playing with periwinkles and seeing how comfortable my kids were picking up gooey snails and watching them move around, I figured the time was now or never to do a taste test.

Shockingly, not only did the kids try them, but they couldn’t get enough of them. Now, every time we go to the beach they ask if we are having periwinkles for dinner.

How we prepared the periwinkles

While my kids napped, I searched the internet for kid-friendly periwinkle recipes. I wanted to make sure that they were safe to eat and found out these tiny slugs are packed with protein.

The recommended preparation includes boiling them for seven minutes and then sauteeing them in butter (optional), just like you would with escargot. While that was our original intention, after the slugs were boiled my kids demanded to try them, so we added the butter to the pasta which we had prepared to go with the meal.

Once it’s finished cooking, you need to remove the slug out of the shell. All the videos I watched used toothpicks. The slug has a small black disc closing, which needs to be removed before eating. It feels like mica, and it’s easy to remove with your fingers.

I started popping the cooked slugs into a bowl, but before going through the dozens of them we had collected I figured I should give some to the kids to see if they were interested. They were, and to my surprise, I could barely keep up with them demanding for more as I popped shell after shell.

Periwinkles are delicious

Eating tiny creatures is not new to me. As a kid, I lived in Colombia and use to snack on “hormigas culonas” which is a type of ant that’s fried and tastes like peanuts. Later on, I often traveled for work to Mexico, and was obsessed with chapulines — toasted grasshoppers served at bars and restaurants. I had had escargot before, too.

This is all to say, I wasn’t afraid of trying the first periwinkle before serving it to my family. But I have to admit that I was surprised at how tasty these tiny creatures are. While technically snails, they taste more like shellfish than anything else.

We mixed ours with pasta, and a buttery sauce that included spring garlic. We were all licking our fingers by the end of the meal.

However, periwinkles are heavy and salty, and even though we had some left that we planned to eat in days to follow, I ended up tossing them out. Now I know we need to collect less of them, and also that this is not an every week type of meal.

That said, seeing my kids enjoy the process of foraging, cooking, and trying a new food was the highlight of my long weekend.

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