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Snake on the menu 8 February 2011

Posted by uggclogs in Cooking, Travelling, Vietnam.
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My dearest brother and his lovely girlfriend came to visit recently, and as he has been here once before, I did not end up entertaining him much this time around. Luckily, they are both quite able to entertain themselves!

However, for our last full day together in Hanoi, I decided to take them out to something special, something I meant to do with him last time he came, but which we never did, and which we had not done without him, either.

Namely going to Snake Village to eat Snake.

We found a wonderful restaurant which was perched on stilts above a pond, with lots of locals eating and drinking away. Snake is supposed to increase virility, and thus mainly men tend to go to these restaurants. But they assured us all that it was delicious, and definitely worth a try!

So, we sit down after discussing the cost of the snake.

They bring us a long, skinny one, which we are supposed to inspect like a good bottle of wine, but just like with wine, I just look at it, and nod, without any idea about what it should look like.

They then proceed to cut the snake open while still alive, and cut the heart into a shot glass. Quickly, they drain the blood, and mix it with rice wine which looked more like moon shine than good, upstanding liquor.

They then cut a small slit into another part of the belly of the snake, to remove a small sack of green liquid. Some told me it was the venom, others told me it was gall. Either way, it also went into rice wine, and we were served two shots of delicious looking alcohol with snake blood and venom before lunch had even started!

We made sure that the “Guest of Honour” (my brother) was served the glass with the still-beating heart, out of respect and slight mischief.

We decided to quickly order some beer to wash things down with, as none of us were entirely convinced by the guys on the table next to ours who claimed it was delicious.

We then took the shots, and my brother’s girlfriend’s face was priceless, as it contorted into an expression ranging from apprehension, fear, disgust and dislike. We had a good laugh at ourselves, as the dishes started coming out.

So what they manage to make out of one snake is an amazing range of food: we had a total of nine dishes, some of which I cannot even recall. We had fried snake, baked snake, snake mince on crackling, snake wrapped in vine leaves, snake soup, fried snake skin. None of which was really anywhere near my favourite dishes of all time.

But the setting, and the adventure, made for a very pleasurable afternoon indeed. I am not sure if I would recommend the experience, and certainly not for the food itself, but I had a good time.