Have you ever eaten a snail? Here they are Sicilian “babbaluci”

Babbaluci” is the Sicilian name standing for tiny snails. It probably comes from the Arabic babush which meant the women’s shoes with the tip pointing upwards. Other erudites think the name comes from the greek boubalàkion (buffalo) due to the horns of both animals.

Babbaluci are something typical in Sicilian culinary tradition, especially in Palermo. In the summer time you can find them in big wicker baskets from the grocery. But the most characteristic places where you can try this strange (maybe slippery) taste, are street food stands during Saint Rosalia Festival – “u’ Fistinu” in Sicilian. In fact, every 14th of July Palermo celebrates her Patron Saint between moments of devotion and folklore.

How does the vendor cook babbaluci? After a brief boiling, he makes snails fry into the olive oil with some cloves of garlic and salt and pepper in abundance. Then he sprinkles a handful of parsley and the work is done!

If someone offers you “babbaluci” to eat, don’t say no, thank you”: be brave, taste them! How? In Palermo it is easy and bizarre at the same time: bring them to your mouth, suck them out and taste!


15 thoughts on “Have you ever eaten a snail? Here they are Sicilian “babbaluci”

  1. Please note that SNAIL in Tunisian language is called Babbush and in maltese is called babbuxu
    The word Babbush is not arabic, its is Amazigh (berber) the old language of North Africa and it means snails
    This word is also used in Libya, Algeria, Morocco for Snail
    The arab Word is “halazun” and is not use din spoken language in North Africa except in some places in south east Tunisia
    People do eat snails in most places of North Africa and especially Eastern Tunisia and Morocco
    Best wishes

    • Especially for Christmas Eve my mother and her family always made the blacks nails we would watch them thoroughly boil them in water and then add sauce with onion a little hot pepper and salt if you like it. They are very Difficult to be able to buy them and Buffalo. Room we remove an eat The meat with a pin or toothpick. I love them. Many people will not eat them my moms. My mom’s family absolutely love them. They are so good The English name for them is Perry Winkle s

  2. I live in Palm Beach County Florida. My Mother and My Grandmother use to make them all the time . I Love them, but I cannot find one place in all of palm Beach county , Florida to buy them and make them. Does anyone know where I can buy them I am Sicilian and this was pretty much a staple in the summertime growing up in Brooklyn. so had fig tress growing in the back.How I miss that time of my life. I live in wellington,

    • You can easily find them in Brooklyn at the store. I have called them and want to have them shipped but it was too expensive

  3. Io sono residente negli stati unite e voglio sapere se li mandate qui grazie e Buon giorno

    • Ciao Gina, ci dispiace ma non sapremmo dove inviarti in quanto sono prodotti vivi e credo siano vietato alla dogana. Se dovessimo trovare qualche sito che le manda già preparati glielo faremmo sapere. A presto!

  4. As a child my brother & I would buy a bag full of Babaluchis…The vendor would give us a stick pin to pull them out of the shell and into your mouth..they were so delicious that we always looked forward to buying more everytime he came around. How I would love to be able to buy them now.

  5. As a child growing up in New Orleans in 50’s and 6o’s we bought them at the Central grocery in the French Quarter.
    2 types the larger brownish with stripes called babbaluci my grandma cooked in a light maranara sauce and the smaller black one-tupateda- not sure of spelling. both boiled in salted water. But the black one fried with olive oil and garlic salt and pepper and some crushed red pepper and sprinkle with lemon and lots of crusty French or Italian bread, Big bowls-the whole meal. Shipped from Tunisia only to special ports of entry like NYC , Boston, San Francisco and LA. Consider an agricultural pest in U.S.
    But now banned. In 70’s while living in NYC I was told Amitranos in hells Kitchen on holidays. Went there but owner was at first very secretive and then told me during certain holiday. But he never got them.

    Back then I called many French restaurants all over big cities in U.S.
    The chefs reluctantly admitted they use canned snails from Vietnam.

  6. I live in Bensonhurst Brooklyn and the fish markets would sell them live in baskets until the late 90s.
    I made them last night. Bought them in Elizabeth NJ. They were very very good. Frozen from Portugal. Made them with sauce and potatoes. Seek and you shall find! Perhaps Colluccio here in Brooklyn carries them though I’ve never seen them there.

  7. I am looking to buy Babbalucci on Long Island NY does anyone know who sells them?
    There was, many years ago, a small fish marked that sold them not sure if they are still there? This goes back in the 50’s . Yes i am old. lol

  8. My grandmother made them every 4th of July. We all looked forward to that dY. She would feed them lettuce then wash them with salt and water then cook them in a red sauce! She would make about 40 pounds! I would pay $1000 to have a plate of them. Just delicious!

  9. I have seen babbaluci many times in the markets of Palermo, but I never had the courage to taste them.

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