Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eating Snake in Hanoi, Vietnam

One of the things I wanted to try while I was in Vietnam was snake.  I had heard of this village called Le Mat  "Snake Village", just outside Hanoi that sounded just up my alley.  The village has been operating to breed and serve snake for hundreds of years as snake meat, and blood is considered a delicacy for the Vietnamese men.  It took some coercing, but finally I was able to convince Jacob along with 4 other English blokes from our guesthouse that it would be a once in a lifetime experience and also, according to Vietnamese folklore, would increase your virility -- not that we manly men need it or anything.

The drill goes something like this:  You show up at the village where you cross a series of small bamboo bridges to get to the area where the festivities begin.  When we arrived, we were sat on the floor at a table and were given drinks until our dinner was ready to be presented.  Soon after, our hosts brought out 2 three foot long snakes and asked if these would suffice.  Ideally, we'd have liked to go for the cobra, but it was just too expensive at nearly $100 a pop. 

We were satisfied with our snakes and next we were instructed onto the next 3 important tasks proceeding the preparation of our meal:  First, someone had to cut the snakes underside open to expose the beating heart.  Second, someone had to find the beating heart and tear it out.  I believe this was Jacob's task.  And, last but not least, one person had to swallow the beating heart.  No one seemed to want to swallow the beating heart so I volunteered.  It actually kind of resembled an oyster shot, only an oyster doesn't pulsate as it travels down your esophagus and into your stomach.

Me - Post snake heart
Once the snake heart was taken, they proceeded to drain the blood and bile to mix with rice wine as shooters.
Draining the blood and bile
Finally they took the snakes (or whatever was left) back to the kitchen and made an 8 course snake dinner. The dinner was excellent tasting, however not extremely filling as you can imagine. There was fried snake skin mixed with garlic and peppers, fried snake meat, grilled snake, snake spring rolls, vegetables, rice, and oh yes -- all the snake blood rice wine we could drink.
Red=Blood Shot Green= Bile Shot


We underestimated the power of the snake blood rice wine and the table got only slightly inebriated before the two hour ordeal was over. When Jake got home, I believe he went to the toilet and threw up... He's still not really sure if it was from the snake or the rice wine or both, but I think he can say it was still an interesting experience!

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