The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Snakes for snacks in wargames

Varangte (Mizoram), April 7: “Tactical cooking”. That’s not the name of Sanjeev Kapoor’s latest recipe book. It’s the soldiers’ recipe for survival.

But it comes with a note of caution: only people with a taste for poisonous snakes, wild cats, stray dogs and field rats, other than wild vegetables and fruits, should try this out.

For the officers and jawans of the Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School, however, “snakes for snacks” is a cherished delicacy during jungle warfare.

The cookery lessons for the men in olive green begins with how to trap snakes, rats, squirrels, birds, rabbits, monkeys, fox, deer and even elephants and pluck fruits and vegetables.

Once a snake is in the net, it is chopped into pieces. Five centimetres from the head and another five from the tail goes to the dustbin. “The head is poisonous and the tail has excreta,” a ‘chef’ explains. Next, the skin is peeled off, the belly slit open and the insides are pulled out. What remains is roasted over the fire like a seekh kebab.

To catch an animal, branches, bamboo poles and ropes are used. The bamboo stick is also used as a utensil — it is chiselled into either a spoon or fork.

An open-air kitchen was on display for journalists and soldiers of the American infantry regiment, who are here for the joint Indo-US exercise being held on one of the most treacherous hillocks of Mizoram.

The menu included cat and dog roast and dry meat as well as vegetarian fare like roast potatoes, bitter gourd and beans.

“It’s cool man, very tasty,” said a soldier of 2nd battalion of the first US army infantry regiment, moving around the various stalls, picking one item after another for a quick bite.

However, this is not the only special experience the school — whose motto is Fight The Guerrilla Like A Guerrilla — has on offer for the Americans.

“The experience we are getting here in counter-insurgency and jungle warfare is immense as the Indian instructors are highly experienced in anti-terrorist operations,” Lt Col David Wisecarve, leading a team of more than 60 soldiers, said.

The three-week exercise is aimed at enhancing inter-operatability of the Indo-US armed forces to conduct unconventional low-intensity conflict operations in jungles.

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