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Stomach that!

 

INDIRA PARTHASARATHY | December 2, 2011 15:44
Tags : Stomach that! | dog meet | snake blood | china | korea |
 

It is said that the Chinese eat just about anything. The phrase used concerning the rules of gastronomy is translated from Mandarin as “anything four-legged that crawls” or the more tongue-in-cheek saying that goes “Chinese will eat anything with four legs except a table”. This excludes bipeds like humans but everything else is game (pun intended).

In my travels throughout Asia, I have come across several intriguing dishes – including some from my own backyard. From the mild to the shocking, here’s a little list…

Snake blood
(China and
Vietnam)

Drinking snake blood requires you to purchase an entire snake. The snake is live and range from common tree snakes to cobras. You choose a snake and the weight is calculated before the snake’s throat is slit right before your eyes. There is an entire process to eating snake that starts with the blood right down to the meat.

Taste:
The blood of the snake is drained into a cup by holding the snake upside down while it’s still partially alive. It is commonly mixed with a very strong local distilled spirit made from rice wine and downed in a single shot. Snake blood tastes very strongly of iron.
The next bit is the preparation of the gall and heart for consumption – these two are also dunked into alcohol and consumed. The rest of the snake is cooked into an entree made of snake skin, which is very rubbery and snake meat (which, pardon the cliché, tastes like chicken).

Cultural significance:
The Chinese believe that drinking snake blood will cure a whole host of ailments and the snake blood, gall and heart ‘fortifies’ a person by making them ‘braver’.

Dog meat
(China, Vietnam
and Korea)

Dog meat is considered a taboo meat in Western culture due to the significance of dogs as pets. It is becoming increasingly hard to find due to international pressure to stop the practice but it’s largely available in China, Korea and Vietnam.

Taste:

The Koreans prefer to prepare dog meat into a hearty soup called gae jang guk which is a spicy kimchi laden broth that’s commonly consumed in Korea. Koreans use a special breed of dog to prepare the soup. It is illegal but a lot of shops still sell it – if you ask the right people. Canine meat has a very gamey taste to it and the texture is tough.

Dog meat in Vietnam is easier to find – there is a long row of shops along the Red River in Hanoi that specializes in dog meat, or thit cho. These unassuming restaurant-cum-butchery are not for the faint of heart – dog heads and feet litter the floor and everything is eaten. The most common preparation is to make several cuts from different parts of the dog to be eaten with a spicy purple sauce.
Each part of the dog tastes different – the thighs contains virtually no meat with just a layer of skin and fat while other parts have slightly more meat. Be warned, the gaminess of the meat can put a more sensitive palate off.

Cultural significance:
The eating of dog meat traces itself to times of famine and is now consumed mostly due to a belief that it heats up your body.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017