What can we say about eating cobra meat?
A particularly high content of linoleic acid in snake meat has a certain effect on the prevention and treatment of vascular sclerosis. Snake meat is rich in calcium, magnesium and other elements. It exists in the form of protein fusion, so it can be well absorbed and utilized by the human body.
But on the other hand.
Eating snake meat is not recommended as there are certain risks associated with eating this type of meat. Snake meat can contain potentially harmful parasites, bacteria, and toxins, which can cause serious illness if consumed.
Additionally, there is no set industry-wide safety guidelines for handling and preparing snake meat, so the level of safety may vary depending on where the meat is purchased. Furthermore, venom from the snake can still be present in the meat, which can be dangerous if ingested.
Also certain species of snake may be endangered, and consuming their meat can contribute to their decline.
And so one late evening in November 2003 I was sitting in a local restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, commonly known as Saigon. A friend of Nace, Samo, an ex-pilot, married to a Vietnamese woman, took us somewhere in the suburbs. A rather disreputable looking bar, with tables without tablecloths, dirty floors. A few Japanese at one table, the rest were locals. But Samo said that this is a real place for real dishes. He should know, because he has been living in Saigon for more than ten years. And we ordered. Something that resembled frog legs, mountain deer meat in a spicy sauce, vegetables, drinking beer…
And the grand finale, cobras.
First, two guys came to our table with a bag in their hands. Heavy rubber gloves on hands, rubber boots, dirty apron. They carefully pulled one snake out of the bag. One of them held her neck and tail. The second man had a pair of large, slightly rusty scissors in his hands. He slowly separated the head from the body with scissors. They say that if a snake is in pain, it secretes more adrenaline and is consequently tastier. He squeezed the snake’s blood into a glass. Somewhere below the neck, he cut into the snake’s body and pulled out the still beating heart. He then hung the snake’s limp body over the back of the chair.
And then came another snake’s turn.
To this day, I don’t know if the cooks were so unskilled, or if the whole thing was just a show. But the cobra escaped them. As if she sensed what was waiting for her. Imagine the cobra’s cold gaze directed at me, head up, swaying left, right. I jumped onto the chair with speed that would have been the envy of a world champion. The snake, however, was frightened and jumped under the table and into the corner. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that all the locals had also fled in the opposite direction. Only those few Japanese stood indecisively at the table.
The head of the hall also came running. She shouted something in Vietnamese. The waiters, paler than yellow, tried to catch the poor, frightened cobra. Finally, they just pressed her against the wall with the back of a chair. And following the same procedure as with the first one, this snake was also prepared for dinner.
While we were waiting for the cobra soup, they served homemade rice brandy with some snake blood mixed into it. The brandy had no taste of blood, just pure brandy, only slightly pink in color.
And then Samo said, here we have a real specialty – the raw heart of a cobra. Who will try. There was no hero, only me and Samo cheered each other on. And I quickly swallowed the still beating cobra’s heart. I admit, I didn’t have the courage to chew it a little. And I washed it down with another glass of brandy.
The soup wasn’t bad after all. The taste of the meat is somewhere between fish and chicken. A few vegetables and that’s it. The only thing that was disturbing was that it was full of rib bones that resembled fish bones.
When we were going back to the hotel around midnight, Samo said, this snake must be cashed in now. We are full of energy, we are not going home yet.
And we went to a disco in the middle of Saigon. A poster for the movie Apocalypse Now hung on a column in the middle of the disco, friendly easy-going local girls with big eyes, the place full of cigarette smoke, low light and loud western music.
And early in the morning, my roommate Miha says, I thought those snakes were the finale of the evening, but they weren’t…
What can we say about eating cobra meat?