As Grinder-friendly ledes go, it is hard to beat this: “Many people go to Vietnam for the food, for the beaches, for the history. My wife and I went there to drink.”

In the New York Times Travel section, Neil Samson Katz describes his trip to a small mountain town in northern Vietnam where rice is the lifeblood, and the local Hmong and Dzao have their own longstanding traditional rice wine recipes. It is not fancy; Katz has a taste straight out of the pot: “It was warm, smelled of flowers and went down easily.” But he’s also after a glass of snake wine (rice liquor to which snakes are later added) or straight-up snake blood, although the latter’s now more obscure. Katz found his in “the snake-rich Mekong Delta” where a shop owner “snipped the snake’s head clean off and stretched its open neck into a plastic cup.” Then—a nice touch -–he added strips of ginger.

At our table, the blood was served in a small pitcher with shot glasses. Still warm and slightly thick, it tasted of brine and light smoke. My lips tasted of fire, a flame that would not extinguish for hours. My heart raced, but managed to stay in my chest. My wife wisely sat this one out.

And then they ate the snake. The bones “came separately, deep-fried. Locals eat them like potato chips.”

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