Chinese Snake Wine
Snake wine (蛇酒, pinyin: shéjiǔ; rượu rắn in Vietnamese) is an alcoholic beverage produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol. The drink was first recorded to have been consumed in China during the Western Zhou dynasty and considered an important curative and believed to reinvigorate a person according to Traditional Chinese medicine. It can be found in China, South Korea, Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia.
The snakes, preferably venomous ones, are not usually preserved for their meat but to have their “essence” and snake poison dissolved in the liquor. However, the snake venom is denatured by the ethanol; its proteins are unfolded and therefore inactivated.
I asked the peddler, the booth-holder, how it tasted. Not wanting to denigrate his ware, he described it as “strong” and “potent.” But from what I’ve read, it has a vile taste. It doesn’t have any quality that makes drinking it come out to be appreciated. It’s supposed to be physically repulsive.
These photos were taken at Baragatan 2011 held inside the provincial government’s compound.