Wednesday, October 17, 2012
What's For Dinner?
Long before I left on this trip, I had heard that the Southeast Asians had a penchant for eating what we would call "exotic" foods. Needless to say, in my strolls through markets, I looked for these delicacies. In addition, my Vietnamese friend Thien Vu aka Andy, who owns a nail salon in Astoria, encouraged me to try cobra wine. He explained that it was a sure bet to increase virility. Therefore this morning on my last full day on the Mekong I decided to share a few pictures of dishes I saw and items you also might like to try.
In the large jar in the bottom picture are cobras that have been fermenting for several weeks. Together with rice, yeast and water, a delightful schnapps is created. I knocked back a swallow and let the juice "slither" down my throat. The snake penises are first removed and put in a different jar and are fermented separately. I have a photo of this concoction too, which, for any voyeur reader, I will share privately.
The second photo from the bottom and the second from the top showing showing some pink meaty loins are the carcasses of rats. I have a photo of a lady taking live ones out of a cage, smacking their heads on the pavement, skinning them, and throwing them in this bowl. I do not do rats. I don't care if they allegedly taste like chicken.
I'm generally sympathetic to animals so it is hard for me to watch them suffer. It is common to see live animals, especially birds, restrained and then hacked, or to watch live fish flopping around before being beheaded and wrapped for an evening dinner. In this country practically anything that moves gets eaten. The markets are full of a variety of poultry, sea life, and meats. All parts have some use. In the middle picture some relatives of the "AFLAC" duck have met their demise. Duckling eggs are also available and, I am told, are remarkable in taste and texture.
I have dozens of pictures of eels. The third picture is one which shows a small, light brown colored variety. As previously posted, these can be purchased fresh or dried. I find them both palatable and they have been included in some of the meals on the boat.
The question, I wonder, is what foods do we have in our culture, which others consider exotic? It's not a Snickers bar. I bought one the other day in Cambodia. Anyone having a TV dinner tonight?