Babbaluci are well washed and boiled earth snails with a specific procedure aimed at leaving the head of the snail outside the shell at the end of cooking. The snails are then seasoned with salt and pepper, a storm of parsley and plenty of garlic browned in olive oil. Babbaluci is the typical dish of the Festino, the annual celebration dedicated to Saint Rosalia, the patron saint of the city, on the 14th of July; usually they can be found until the end of June and the end of the summer in the street markets.
The more effective (and traditional) way to eat them is to suck the snail directly out of the shell, a way of eating them with the downside of producing a typical noise, not a very elegant one by the way. But there again street food has never given any relevance to good manners! The term babbaluci comes from the Arab word “babuch” (snail), another heritage of historical dominion that has changed the face and history of the city since the Middle Ages. The bigger babbaluci are called “crastuna” because of their large horns (from “crasto”, the ram) and are a different specialty, cooked with a fantastic sauce of tomato and onions.
(Foto ©Vincenzo Allotta per Crocche.it)