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Saturday, October 22, 2005



Another Westerner visiting Mahasarakham told me he had seen snakes for sale in the local market. I've never heard of Isaan people eating snakes. I'm not saying they don't. Except perhaps for cat, they seem to eat just about anything that isn't poisonous. However, I have visited the Mahasarakham market many times both in its current venue and the temporary venue before this one was rebuilt. I have never seen a snake in the market.

What I do see are these things here. Perhaps my friend mistook them for snakes. But just in case it was me making a mistake I asked the vendor, 'Nee ngoo mai khap?' (Are these snakes?)

'Mai ngoo,' (Not snakes) she answered. 'Bpen pla li.' Now I'm not sure what the 'li' part of that sentence is but I understand 'pla' which is 'fish'. So I'm sure these are eels and not snakes. She picked up the biggest to show me more closely. Yes, I'm sure it's not a snake.

When I was in Laos my guide book told of a market in Vientiane where snakes are sold. I went there but saw none. Still if Laos people eat snake then I assume that some Isaan people do too as many of them have originally come from Laos.

If given the opportunity I may one day eat pla li. And as for ngoo? Well, why not?

The following comment was emailed to my by a Thai friend currently living in Sydney:

I used to eat some pieces of an eel once in Isaan when I joined a University Development project. I didn't want to, but the local watched us closely as they were so happy when University students came and tried what they normally eat. It was like a chiken plus fish, but sweeter.

I returned home telling my dad and everyone about it. My dad said that many people believe that eel helps cure nose bleeding, which I and my brothers normally had since we were young. I observed myself since then. It turned out that my bleeding nose alsmost disappeared. I had it here in Sydney during winters when my nose is too dried.
Many Europeans eat eel.
Sea eel and fresh water eel are very popular in Japan!( they are smaller than what you've seen in Thailand, though!
"Lai= slippery".
Isaan-dwellers certainly do eat snakes: poisonous or not. However, never seen in the market. Usually eaten by farmers who find them in the rice fields.
Expat in Mahasarakham (6 years)
Revisiting this, it might be worth adding now that snake was offered for sale every day at the market in Kompong Chhnang, Cambodia.
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