Snakes Alive!

The Philippine cobra - the world's third most deadly serpent

The Philippine cobra - the world's third most deadly serpent

A rather large snake was caught in the garden of my new home in Bacolod City this week. As I have a young son, I was naturally concerned that snakes here might be venomous.

But after some research, I was told on good authority that Negros Island is not home to venomous serpents, just harmless ones that feed on rodents and insects.

I checked with Bacolod’s Riverside Hospital as to the number of cases of snake bite its emergency department deals with. Apparently, the last case was more than five years ago. That is no doubt why the hospitals’s pharmacy does not carry anti-venom snake serum.

As a dad, it was a relief to know that my little boy is unlikely to encounter a cobra in the garden. You know how curious children are.

But not every part of the country is so lucky.

There are some 180 species of snakes in the Philippines. Of these, 19 are venomous. Most of them stay in rural areas, preying on small mammals such as rats and mice. Usually they prefer moist areas such as rivers, being cold-blooded animals.

Alarmingly, the Philippines is home to the world’s third most deadly serpent, the much-feared Philippine Cobra. It’s the most toxic of all cobra species.

The Philippines is also home to giant pythons. Pictured is the skin of one such monster.

The Philippines is also home to giant pythons. Pictured is the skin of one such monster.

It’s described as aggressive and is quite common, especially near rice paddies where there are plenty of rats and mice. Fortunately for us here, they are found on the islands of Luzon, Mindoro, Catanduanes and Masbate.

The venom of the Philippine cobra affects the respiratory function and can cause respiratory paralysis. They can accurately spit their venom at a target up to three metres away. The symptoms of a bite can include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, difficulty breathing and even death.

But happily, most species of snakes in the Philippines are non venomous. However, should you ever come face-to-face with a serpent, the experts’ advice is to treat then all as potentially dangerous and leave them well alone.  Good advice indeed!

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Sausages: We Love ‘Em

These days sausage lovers in Bacolod are spoilt for choice. It was hard to find a decent sausage a few years ago, but now the range is

Not the healthiest of foods, but delicious

Not the healthiest of foods, but delicious

vast and these meaty delights, whether a humble Hungarian or a classic Keilbasa, are readily available throughout the city.

But alas, lovers of British sausages – or ‘bangers’ as the Brits call them – are not so lucky. Despite numerous requests, no one is making these British delicacies here.

Sausages are not the healthiest of foods given their high fat content, but they are delicious. And, as the saying goes, moderation in everything, including moderation.

The sausage is the oldest form of processed meat – you could say it was the world’s first convenience food. Historians believe sausages have been around for as long as man has had domesticated animals.

Pigs, which then as now were the main source of most sausages, were domesticated about 5,000BC in Egypt and China and the first sausages were probably made by herders cutting up scraps of meat and sealing them in the intestines of slaughtered animals.

The earliest mention of sausages is in Homer’s The Odyssey from around 850BC, while the Chinese wall paintings of the Han dynasty circa 200BC also show them.

Bacoleños spoilt for choice these days

Bacoleños spoilt for choice these days

The word ‘sausage’ is derived from the Latin ‘salsus’ meaning salted or preserved and it thought the Romans introduced the technique to northern Europe.

By the Middle Ages sausages were to be found in virtually every region of the European continent.

Despite the vast choice shoppers have these days for sausages, some consumers are wary of their high fat content plus some uncertainly as to exactly what bits and pieces and preservatives manufacturers put into their products.

Thus many sausage-lovers are making their own. As an Englishman, who likes the traditional British ‘banger’, I started making my own when I couldn’t convince any local sausage makers to produce a few. I found that sausage-making is not difficult, especially if your food mixer has a stuffer attachment.

The British really do love their sausages. There’s even a British Sausage Appreciation Society designed to raise awareness of delicious tasting quality sausages.

And every November, there’s a British Sausage Week which celebrates the great British Banger and promotes the wide range of sausages currently available in the country.

Highlight of that week is the annual ‘Legendary British Bangers’ competition, which aims to find the country’s most sensational sausages from all areas of the industry, including butchers and supermarkets to pubs and cafes.