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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on January 29, 2001 at 11:48:07:
NEW STRAITS TIMES (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) 27 January 01 North-South divide over snakes on menu
While the southern Cantonese will tuck into the dish with relish this year, northerners will abstain until the next zodiac sign comes along
Hong Kong: The people of China's southern Guangdong province will heartily consume more snakes this year while their brethren in the north abstain from the reptilian cuisine, a Hongkong newspaper has reported.
The Cantonese, the indigenous people of Guangdong, have always looked upon the snake as not only a health-giving tonic but also a succulent dish.
Therefore, as the Year of the Dragon drew to an end early this week, giving way to the Year of the Snake, all restaurants and eateries in Guangzhou, where the reptile is on the menu, were fully booked by Cantonese snake gourmets, the Sun Daily said.
And the demand is forecast to last the whole Chinese lunar calendar until the arrival of the next animal on the Chinese zodiac.
However, in northern China, more snakes are likely to survive the year as they are accorded a sacred status in the region while their 'reign' lasts.
Some restaurants have actually removed the snake dishes from their menu as a signal to customers that they respect the taboo.
Even many Teochew and Cantonese restaurants in Beijing, which are famous for their snake dishes, are bracing for a bad time because of slackening demand.
Snake has gone without a trace from dining tables in the Chinese capital as Beijingers consider it a profanity to even inflict harm on it during the course of its year.
Meanwhile, in southern Taiwan, the craving for snake has remained steady as it is popularly viewed here as a repository of medicinal and aphrodisiac properties, the Taiwanese magazine Scoop reported in its latest edition.
Any seller of snake meat in Tainan city could give an impressive discourse on what good each part of a snake could render to the human body, the magazine said.
However, their business too is heading for a rough patch - not that they are in a wrong zodiac year - but because animal rights activists have become assiduous in doing spring checks to save snakes from their knife.
As a result, many snake shops had closed down, finding the government-sanctioned checks unbearable, the magazine said.
It seems that the Cantonese are the only Chinese people tucking into snakes free from any restraint, real and unreal.
In fact, many Cantonese restaurants are expanding their culinary experiment with snakes, including picking up the Teochew way of cooking the reptile and making improvements on it.