Eating out in style - I’ll have the python please
The mouth-watering recipes and invitations to fine dining from some of the local eateries in the March issue reminded me of one memorable, if somewhat different meal I was invited to.
I worked in south east Asia for a number of years and was thus able to enjoy the best of the excellent Malaysian and Chinese cuisines.
However, one day my Chinese foreman put his head around my office door and said that Pang, our Vietnamese driver, had gone into the jungle and caught a very nice python. Would I like to try it?
I replied that I would be absolutely delighted. I was perhaps rather hasty in my enthusiasm but I had my reputation as ‘that dumb Puteh (white bloke) who would eat anything put in front of him’ to uphold.
I went to the snake-fest without any reservation whatsoever and, with beer in hand, joined a dozen or so other colleagues sitting crosslegged on the floor. The consensus of most of those present was that the python tasted like chicken. I gave a hip hooray to that.
Senor snake duly arrived and was dished out in four-inch chunks, complete with the original rack of ribs. It looked grey. You do not eat snake with a cake fork so, following my fellow guests, I took hold of a rib in each hand and brought Hissing Sid up to within a couple of inches of eating distance. It even smelled grey.
Just as I was about to take a bite I began to think of what this thing used to do for a living. I could clearly see a cute, furry little animal being squeezed past my face on its way to becoming a tasty snack. My stomach immediately warned me not to go through with this or it would be in open revolt.
Not wanting to wimp out I closed my eyes and sunk my teeth into the unknown. It was tough and chewy and well, tough and chewy. Didn’t I agree, I was asked, that it really did taste like chicken? No, no it didn’t. It tasted like python and on a culinary table I would put it right up there with chocolate covered snails and garlic sandwiches.
My foreman then seemed to agree with my opinion when he said that the snake was rather tough, the reason being that Pang hadn’t prepared it in the time honoured manner.
He’d just caught, killed, gutted and skinned it. Seemed about right to me. But no, in order to enhance its texture and flavour, he should have, all those of a delicate constitution look away now, nailed it to a tree and skinned it alive!
The contents of my stomach hit the back of my throat at the same time as I reached a patch of secondary jungle.
The roars of laughter behind me meant that, from now on, I would just be known as ‘that dumb Puteh’. PAT PHILPOTT Gorleston Norfolk