Snail Soup and Ramadhan: Banyumas, Central Java

For many Muslims, Ramadhan provides an opportunity to make dietary changes, but that does not necessarily entail eating kraca (snails) like the folks in Banyumas, Central Java. The snails, which Banyumas people usually feed to their ducks, are made into a tasty curry soup that sells for Rp 1,500 a helping. But while it is easy to spot kraca vendors along the roadsides of Purwokerto in the holy month, they quickly disappear once Idul Fitri celebrations are in full swing.

Hidayati, 36, a vendor from Bojongsari, Banyumas, said she sold 20 liters of snail soup a day, making a 300 percent profit.

“I buy the snails in the market for Rp 4,000 a kilogram. One kilogram of snails can be turned into 10 plastic packages of kraca curry soup,” Hidayati said.

“Sales are good because snail soup is considered a special Ramadhan food and is eaten to break the fast in the afternoon as well as late at night,” said Suparto, 30, a resident of Dukuhwaluh, Purwokerto.

He said he bought curried snails almost every afternoon.

“After eating kraca, you feel reinvigorated as the curry is delicious and hot,” said Suparto, adding that his wife and children were also fond of the dish.

If you want to really enjoy the dish, Suparto said, you have to suck the snails until the flesh slides into your mouth together with the spicy broth.

“Sometimes it is difficult to suck out the flesh so you must pluck it out with a toothpick,” Suparto said.

Fadli, 38, a resident of Jatilawang, said the dish was one of his favorites. “For me, eating kraca is always associated with the month of Ramadhan. When Ramadhan comes, you find kraca curry.”

Perhaps, one of the blessings of Ramadhan is that many people can make a better living selling kraca soup. Fadli vowed eating the soup could do men a lot of good sexually: “I haven’t consulted medical experts about this but in my experience eating two portions of kraca curry soup lifts one’s libido”.

Hidayati said the soup took a long time to cook.

“The snails must be immersed in water for three hours to remove their dung. Then, we pierce the shells and boil them. After that, the water is changed and they are boiled a second time and then the other ingredients are added,” she said.

“To make a delicious snail curry, use a lot of chilies and pepper,” Hidayati suggested.

Agus Maryono