Le Bulot or Whelk – A Specialty Sea Snail

Le Bulot is Popular in Paris Markets:

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Le Bulot ©Travelsignposts

Le Bulot or Whelk is a popular shellfish that is common in the markets of Paris. This crustacean is usually cooked with garlic butter or spices and is served in seafood platters.  The fishermen who farm these shellfish have a less fancy way of cooking them, boiled in salt water with bouquet garni, they serve them cold with a dash of pepper.

What are Le Bulot

This conical shaped, rugged-looking sea snail is a specialty of the Normandy region. Greenish to light brown in colour and measuring between 6 cm to 10 cm, whelks thrive in the cold and temperate waters

of the North Atlantic and the English Channel. They can also be found in Canada and the Siberian seas, all the way down to the Portuguese coast. They live up to 100 metres deep and prefer the seabeds rich in shell debris where they scavenge for food. These carnivorous molluscs move very little and can live for over 10 years.

From Bait to Specialty Food

Since the Middle Ages, whelk was used as bait for cod fishing and it was only in the last century that these sea snails were appreciated as food for human consumption. So popular are these sea snails that these days there are controls on harvesting whelk. In Calvados and Manche fishermen need a license for whelk harvesting and there are also controls on how much can be harvested. The whelks are available from February to December, with January being an off-limit month for the whelks to reproduce.

Specialty seafood it may be, but these snail-like creatures are probably not to everyone’s tastes.  If you like escargot in garlic and butter sauce, you’ll probably enjoy bulot.  I must admit to being more adventurous in the past, but these days anything that resembles the garden snails plays on my imagination.

Marche Rungis

Most of the food in Paris are brought in from the Marche Rungis, the largest wholesale food market in Europe. If you’re a foodie, it’s worthwhile visiting Marche Rungis to get an insight of this fascinating wholesale market and to see what’s in season in Paris.

Marché Rungis
1 rue de la Tour
BP 316
94152 Rungis cedex

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