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The Tippling Point | A Shot of Snake Blood with Cobra Heart: Why This Vietnamese Drink Claims to Boost Sex Drive

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In 15 minutes, the restaurant staff will bring you a shot of snake blood with a cobra heart beating in it. To cut the sharp tang, they'd have already diluted it a bit with rice wine.

News18 Tippling PointHow many of you have savoured the most popular and the most notorious of drinking experiences in Vietnam?

If you are not lily-livered (I am one, sorry) you could set out for Vietnam's capital Hanoi once the COVID-19 blues become a worry of past. Hanoi is well-known for its snake village where you find the streets lined with restaurants that serve exotic dishes made with snakes. Yes, snakes indeed!

All you have to do is to point your finger at a live snake, preferably a cobra, you wish to sip on. Now sit patiently feasting your eyes on those various dishes displayed behind the glass window. All snakish. In 15 minutes, they'd bring you a shot of snake blood with a cobra heart beating in it. To cut the sharp tang, they'd have already diluted it a bit with rice wine. Take heart, for all eyes from other tables are on you. This is the moment to parade your manliness. Pick your glass up with a grin, and drain it at one go. A bottom's up.

Don't retch or throw up as you feel the snake-heart still beating wiggling down your food pipe.

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You're not alone on this.

In 1993, Gordon Ramsay, the star chef, was seen in his popular series 'Gordon's Great Escape' swallowing a still-beating heart of a cobra along with its blood and wine at a restaurant in Vietnam. His audience was stunned to catch the feat. Seven years later, in the 2000 film 'The Beach', we catch none other than Leanardo DiCaprio slamming down a shot of alcohol with snake blood offered by strangers. He has just arrived in Bangkok, Thailand's capital.

So what happens at the kitchen once you place the order?

Snake experts slit open the neck of the doomed cobra you have pointed out, with a massive knife. After draining out its blood into a bottle, they prize out its heart. Into a small glass, they put it in before topping it out with snake blood and rice wine. Voila! Your drink is ready!

What does the drink offer you?

Virility. That's what it claims to offer. "One night, five times," we hear the hosts in Ramsay's program scream to the camera. Well, that could be tempting for many a drooping libido wallowing in the dark out there.

Don't assume the feast is finished with just cobra's heart at the Vietnamese restaurant, for they couldn't let any part of a costly snake go waste.

Another drink they offer is snake bile mixed with rice wine. Even snake venom is a sought-after drink as it gets dangerous only when administered intravenously. You may ask, what happens if you have a cut in your mouth or intestine.

You're doomed. Rest in Peace.

As light refreshments, you can choose from the elaborate snake buffet that offers snake spring roll, snake soup, snake barbecue, snake-skin fritters, and a jolly good variety of whatever you can imagine from along the length of a serpent. Even bones are not spared!

The million-dollar question is whether the snake is part of Vietnamese traditional cuisine. Hardly so. Most of the natives have never tasted snake in their life. But when the tourism industry mushroomed, it needed something crazy to catch the attention of people who come over from various parts of the world. Why not tap into one of the primal fears of man!

As if this is payback time for what happened at Eden.

first published:July 26, 2020, 13:20 IST