Usually, Spanish farmers and gardeners dread snails that infest their crops. But come spring, diners clamor over the tender mollusks known as caracoles. City dwellers flock to tapas bars that dish up the snails in fragrant broth, served with a tong and toothpicks for plucking the critters from their shells.
Come May, caracoles appear in rice, alongside rabbit, and simmered in tomato broth. Chefs boil spices, citrus rind, cayenne pepper, and onions to create aromatic snail stews, which patrons readily wash down with cold beer. Market stalls and grocers dot the streets in Andalusia, selling their snails by weight, and families prepare spring-centric dishes with the seasonal protein. Fans slurp up snails on the street, in tapas bars, and at home until late June, when the season ends. Caracoles are a bit of a “here today, gone tomorrow” treat, but don’t worry, they’ll come crawling back again next year.