The cages were empty when we first arrived at the restaurant. The sign out front, in big bold Chinese characters, looked something similar to the letters my roommate had written down on a small piece of paper for me. There were handwritten English words written just above the Chinese characters, no larger than a size twelve font. “Snake Soup” it read. We had found our whole-in-the-hall.
There were five of us; two French and three Americans, none of whom could speak Cantonese. But that didn’t stop the owners from knowing exactly what we wanted. Shortly after our arrival a box came from the back that emptied ten cobra snakes into the cage just in front of us. After all, our snake soup could have been chicken for all we knew.