The Chinese culinary community is mourning the freak death of chef Peng Fan after he was bitten by the head of an Indochinese spitting cobra, after the chef had beheaded the cobra in preparation to make poisonous snake soup — a delicacy particularly appreciated in southern China's Guangdong province, where Fan worked.
After making the soup, Fan picked up the discarded snake’s head to throw it away, when it bit him, injecting him with its lethal venom. The chef was immediately rushed to the hospital, but died before he could be given the antidote.
“There was nothing that could be done to save the man,” said a police spokesperson in a statement. “Only the anti-venom could have helped, but this was not given in time. It was just a tragic accident.”
How was it possible for a severed snake head to bite a man? Terrifyingly, according to National Geographic, even though a snake is technically dead after it’s beheaded, it is often still capable of some reflexive actions, and can open its mouth and bite down when its nervous system perceives a threat.
Last year, a woman in a different part of China was bitten by a snake that had theoretically been preserved, dead, in a bottle of medicinal wine for three months. Unlike the unfortunate Fan, she was quickly treated and recovered.
For the latest happenings in the food and drink world, visit our Food News page.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi