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Down by the reservoir, the locals snack on snake

Down by the reservoir, the locals snack on snake

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Chi Sokha, 18, fries snakes on a grill at the Ang Trapaing Thma reservoir, in Banteay Meanchey province.

The first time I tasted it, it was delicious. Now I can’t go without it

FRESHLY fried snake is the specialty of a snack-food stall at Ang Trapaing Thma, near a reservoir built by the Pol Pot regime. It has become a favourite of local villagers and some visitors.

Chi Sokhon, 18, from Oddar Meanchey province, visits Ang Trapaing Thmar often and says he likes to eat fried snake and drink rice wine.

“The first time I tasted it, it was delicious. Now I can’t go without it,” he says with a laugh.

During our interview, Chi Sokhon bought four fried snakes for 5000 riel ($1.25). He and three of his friends shared them, washed down with rice wine.

The stall also sells chickens and salty-roasted fish, but only the snake could tempt Chi Sokhon’s taste buds.

Villagers such as Chi Sokhon say they eat snake because they like the taste and it’s affordable.

Chi Sokhon’s friend Bun Roth, 21 nods his head in agreement  and says he has eaten snake many times. “Whenever I come to Ang Trapaing Thma, I buy fried snakes”, he says.

Kuy Pomroth, 34, one of about 10 snake sellers in Ang Trapaing Thma, says she fries four to five kilograms of snakes each day to sell to local residents and visitors.

She says the snakes are caught by putting fishing nets in the Ang Trapaing Thma reservoir. The fishermen then sell them to her or to other vendors at the dam.

Fresh snake costs 3000 riel (75 cents) a kilogram, but after it is cooked, the price goes up to 17,000 riel ($4.24) a kilogram.

Kuy Pomroth says there are a lot of snakes in the reservoir, especially when it’s full. When the water level drops, they swim to the forests or nearby hills.

Local resident Srouch Sophy, 26, says she often buys fried snake for her husband and younger brother, who admit they’ve become  addicted to snake meat.

She does not eat snake herself, but says: “I buy it every day for my brother and my husband. Snake is a special food here.”

In 2000, the Ang Trapaing Thma reservoir was declared a protected site because of its vulnerable bird species and biodiversity.

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