Let's take a little break from Madagascar. I'm sure they have some weird eats there; after all, lemurs are plentiful, and consuming elephant bird eggs led to said bird's extinction. However, last week I mentioned the consumption of venomous snakes...namely cobras.
As seen last week, cobras are often stuffed into wine bottles. Other venomous snakes and scorpions are often thrown in to the mix for even more, umm, sexual potency. Although the idea of snake wine is pretty well spread wherever China took over, cobras in particular have a whole different level of culinary uniqueness to them.
Wherever cobras are found, people eat them. (An exception can be made for India; there are many religions there that would object, even though snake charming has just as many skeletons in its closet.) Cobra meat is usually the last thing on a Westerner's menu, but cobra cuisine is uncommon in Asia. It can be found in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, China...pretty much anywhere cobras live. They even have cobra burgers.
Burgers aside, there is always some sort of ritual before consuming a cobra. As with lobsters and sometimes fish, the consumer picks his (usually) own live cobra from a tank, cage or pen tied to the restaurant. Ideally, the cobra should be an aggressive little bastard just itching to pump your hand full of venom.
If the cobra is not aggressive already (you would be too, if you were at a restaurant and unable to eat anything there), the restaurant owner will rile it further. They will either prod it themselves or stick a mongoose in the cage to get the snake's blood boiling. This is thought to enhance the medicinal properties of the snake's flesh while being sick entertainment. (It's the kind of thing that, regardless of your stance on animal cruelty, you want to watch.)
You get to drink the blood. And the bile. And swallow the cobra's still-beating heart.
Some say that the side-effects of eating cobra (especially the blood and bile) are a miracle cure, restoring everything from joint pain to baldness to nearsightedness. This is assuming that you went for a full-course cobra experience and not just a burger.
I could not find a GIF.
For all of you who are saying that this is cruel, it is. So are Western factory farms. That is where your burgers come from. The cobra gets a fight in before it gets slaughtered; cows do not. They also use almost every part of the cobra if you get the full course, which is more than can be said for modern Western cuisine. Being mortified at the ritual practice not help you here. Eating strong animals to increase one's own strength is also a common mindset and practice, especially in Asia. Do not ask how balut fits into this mindset; I have no idea.
On that note, it would be interesting if regular burgers got the same ritual treatment. McDonald's: A Bullfight before Every Meal!
Pictured: 5 Quarter Pounders, now with a side-order of badass.
Why go to all that trouble? In many places, serpents are still viewed as divine beings, or at the very least having some mystical powers. The people are literally eating the flesh of their god. This is like eating Christ's flesh and blood, only far more entertaining and with actual flesh and blood. It's a sacrifice that evolved into cuisine.
Their gods taste like chicken, apparently.