Even if you love eating snails, it is possible that you have never given much thought to the way they live.
Maybe you assume that they are weak and slow, enduring lives of quiet desperation, as Thoreau once described the bulk of humanity.
If so, Mary Stewart, a snail rancher whose mollusks are sought after by top chefs all over the country (including Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller), will not hesitate to set you straight.
“They are the loudest, noisiest munchers you’ve ever heard,” she said on a hot Central Valley morning, smoking a cigarette in a small air-conditioned room attached to a farm stand a few steps from her house.
But it’s hard to imagine what it actually means to care for snails unless you visit Ms. Stewart, who lives in a mobile home in this agricultural area north of Bakersfield, Calif. To raise delicious snails, you apparently have to know what makes them tick, and Ms. Stewart, who turned 64 a few weeks ago, has spent a couple of decades educating herself.
For more, see: The Snail Wrangler