Taipei, Taiwan: Snake Alley: Huashi Street Night Market
The infamous Snake Alley is now a well-publicized tourist venue, home to much more than vendors serving exotic reptiles. There you can find stinky tofu, durian, and turtles (the variety served on a plate). The ‘alley’ is littered with vendors and, among them, cages containing the snakes. They pick up a python or whatever and make a slit down the underbelly of the snake. The vendor then pulls out the main artery and the blood then pours out into whatever receptacle is available. This blood is what is offered for sale to anyone in the shop, or anyone inspired by the gruesome spectacle. The blood is served in shot-glasses alongside several other concoctions, the contents of which vary, and may or may not include anti-venom. If you are lucky, the vendor will also serve a portion of snake soup – a light broth including what is unmistakably a segment of a snake’s body. Don’t shy away from the soup. The dish is actually refreshing and the meat can be surprisingly tender.
Among the more scarring scenes witnessed: a worm like object was crawling along a countertop, reeling its head upwards, when I realized that the vendor specialized in turtle, and the ‘worm’ was a decapitated turtle, grasping for air in its final moments.
Snake Alley is located at Huashi Street (Between Hsiyuan Rd. and Huanho South Rd.), Taipei, Taiwan Province 108. Cabs are the best means of finding the alley. An iron stomach is the only way to stay.
Written by Jason Summerfield