Snakes on a plate: Vietnam’s coiled cuisine

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This photo taken on August 24, 2018 shows chef Dinh Tien Dung collecting snake blood on a glass of rice wine at a specialty restaurant in Yen Bai province. (AFP)
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This photo taken on August 24, 2018 shows a customer consuming a snake sausage dish served at a specialty restaurant in Yen Bai province. (AFP)
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This photo taken on August 24, 2018 shows Dang Quoc Khanh holding a snake in his breeding farm in Yen Bai province. (AFP)
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This photo taken on August 24, 2018 shows chef Dinh Tien Dung cleaning the snakes at a specialty restaurant in Yen Bai province, Vietnam. (AFP)
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This photo taken on August 24, 2018 shows a cook preparing snake dish at a specialty restaurant in Yen Bai province. (AFP)
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This photo taken on August 24, 2018 shows chef Dinh Tien Dung preparing to cook a snake at a specialty restaurant in Yen Bai province while an assistant looks on. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2018
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Snakes on a plate: Vietnam’s coiled cuisine

  • It’s delicious, good for your health and good for your bones

YEN BAI, Vietnam: With their meat served up in a wide array of dishes and blood added to rice wine, snakes make a reputedly satisfying — and nourishing — meal in Vietnam.
Caught in the jungles of the north of the country, snake flesh is traditionally believed to help with cooling overheated body temperatures, relieving headaches and easing digestion.
Restaurants will cook it steamed or fried with lemongrass and chilli and serve it with a rice wine mixed with snake blood, said chef Dinh Tien Dung, who works at a restaurant in Yen Bai province three hours northwest of the capital Hanoi.
Holding a snake’s head with one hand, Dinh Tien Dung slit its body near the head with a knife and squeezed blood out of it, dripping it into a cup of rice wine.
“We make use of every part of the snake except its head and its scales,” said the 32-year-old.
Locals believe that only men over 50 should drink snake wine, as younger males are likely to experience “backache or impotence,” said restaurant owner Duong Duc Doc.
As for its flesh, the benefits to eating it are numerous, said snake-catcher Dang Quoc Khanh, a 35-year-old who has been trapping serpents in the jungle since he was a young boy.
“Snake meat is a very good food,” he said, “It’s delicious, good for your health and good for your bones.”
But wildlife expert Ioana Dungler from Four Paws International said killing wild snakes and disturbing the jungles’ ecosystem is unnecessary as global meat production should be sufficient.
“The whole process of these animals ending on a plate or in a drink is very painful... and it’s done for purposes that are not justified,” Dungler told AFP.


Thais pray they’re barking up the right tree looking for lottery luck

Updated 22 November 2018
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Thais pray they’re barking up the right tree looking for lottery luck

  • The state-run lottery business is booming in the kingdom
  • One lucky worshipper believes he won 70,000 baht ($2,122.50) thanks to the tree

BANGKOK: Superstition and looking for luck are a part of daily life in Thailand. In one temple in central Bangkok, visitors hope to find it hidden in the bark of an ancient tree.
Hundreds flock to the Kunnatri Ruttharam temple every week to pay respects to the enormous dead tree trunk, which is draped in flowers and offerings from worshippers who believe rubbing its bark can reveal winning lottery numbers.
The state-run lottery business is booming in the kingdom, with ticket vendors on almost every street corner and buyers poring over numerology charts to pick the luckiest sequence.
The state lottery contributed 40.8 billion baht ($1.24 billion) to government revenue in 2018, according to data, the highest of any state-owned enterprise and more than double that of the state energy company PTT.
One lucky worshipper believes he won 70,000 baht ($2,122.50) thanks to the tree and said it has brought him luck before.
“I have won minor prizes before from this tree, I think when I am in tough spots the tree helps me,” Pakapon Chummano, 54, said.
People have a variety of techniques for finding lucky lottery numbers, including visiting spirit mediums, praying to holy relics, or dropping candle wax on water at temples or other holy sites.
Lottery winnings are announced twice a month and the Government Lottery office estimates it sells an average of 90 million tickets per round in a country of almost 70 million people.