There are some meals you never forget. Unless you’re a Peruvian living in the Andes, it’s not everyday that you come across cuy on restaurant menus. If you’re a Mexico City resident, there’s nothing extraordinary about brain or eye tacos. I’ve had both dishes and many other bizarre foods during my travels, still, there’s one meal that stands out from the pack: snake.
In October 2014, I headed to Southeast Asia on a journey to rediscover my spirituality. This would be accomplished, I hoped, with a week of meditating alongside Buddhist monks in Laos. All roads to final destinations are paved with stops, and my second on this particular trek found me in the charming, misty city of Hanoi.
Days prior to my arrival, I overheard a Dutchman bloviating about eating snake at Le Mat, a suburb of Hanoi. When I arrived at my hotel following a flight from Saigon, I asked the hotel concierge if they were aware of such a place. Four days later, they arranged my visit and I found myself zipping down the city’s bustling streets on the back of the concierges’ associate. After 25-minutes of scooter riding death grip, I jumped off at my destination.
Wobbly, yet thankful, I entered the grounds of what could only be described as a snake village. A middle-aged woman greeted me at the door, asking if I had come for the snake. I nodded and smiled before she mirrored the actions and led me to a set of cages. She opened one, reached inside and immediately retreated. Whatever was inside had bit her hard enough to pierce skin.
Something told me this wasn’t the first time this sort of thing happened to the woman because she didn’t hesitate repeating the action. This time succeeding with extracting a lengthy reptile out of its temporary prison and handing it to me. Cage and blood spurting from her hand … you’ll have to watch the video above to find out.