Limits of Good Taste

Limits of Good Taste | We all like the food we grew up with. Our taste buds are used to it. But personal limits of “good” taste are sometimes reached when traveling into far-away countries. In Kenya the Masai want to make you drink blood’n’milk smoothies from cattle, in Australia’s outback you got to eat kangaroo tail, in Thailand it’s roasted cockroaches, in China literally anything that crawls. But the fore-runner regarding “Limits of Good Taste” is Japan.

weirdest-food-snake-wine
Weirdest food: snake wine, Made in Japan.

Japan tops the list by a good margin. Ever tried fish eggs, black sulfur ramen, tofu skin, raw horse meat, natto (fermented beans), whale meat, chicken cartilage, sea grapes (green caviar), candied grasshoppers or fried octopus balls? One of the reasons why many western people do not visit Japan is: they can’t stand having cold raw seafood for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And those brave enough to book a ticket to Tokyo might need some alcohol to get over all these strange strong salty fishy smells and tastes. Here is our recommendation: Habushu – that’s Snake wine.

Although it is proven that snake wine has no value for vitality and health, the tradition of snake wine making (Habu sake) has been kept up in Okinawa, Japan. Most of these poor creatures used for the wine are venomous snakes. A bite from a habu snake causes nausea, hypotension, vomiting, and even death. There have been cases where victims lost motor functions in hands and legs.

The makers of Habu Sake (also called Habushu) either choose to submerge a snake in alcohol and seal the bottle, which means they drown the snake. Or the snake is put on ice until it passes out, at which point it is gutted, bled and sewn up. When the viper is thawed and awakens, it will quickly die in an aggressive striking manner. Unfortunately this is what the producers are looking for. No reason for this animal torture will make sense to a western mind. But ok. We can’t change traditions. Moving forward, the Habu sake manufacturer will put the snake in ethanol for approx. one month. To continue the process, the habu is put in a 59% alcohol mix for another 40 days and finally put in a 35% alcohol mix to be sold. Interesting side note: removing the intestines of the snake (see second method) is thought to decrease the drink’s particularly unpleasant smell. Cheers.

habu-sake-japanese-snake-wine
habu-sake-japanese-snake-wine, made in Okinawa.

Interesting read: Woman bitten by wine snake -> http://www.ibtimes.com/wine-snake-bites-woman-after-spending-3-months-bottle-1404948