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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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snakes of just about every sort have been eaten in most parts of the world where they occur. Snake venom is in the head area only, and the flesh may safely be consumed. Australian Aborigines would bake snakes in the coals of a camp fire; and the Cribbs (1975) cite an Australian version of an old popular song based on this practice: ‘If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a snake.’

In parts of SE Asia snakes are regularly seen in the markets, but they do not constitute an important food resource. The same applies in China and Japan. But ways of preparing snake meat are better known in those countries. The Chinese make a snake soup, and serve marinated snake meat with rice. The Japanese have a way of grilling marinated strips of meat which is reminiscent of their way of treating eels. Generally, the obvious resemblance between eels and snakes makes recipes for the one suited to the other; but snakes are leaner.