If you’ve ever been to a Chinese wedding (or even if you haven’t), you’ve probably had at one time shark fin soup during a Chinese banquet. I like shark fin soup when offered, but can’t say that it’s my favorite nor have I ever gone out of my way to order it. I prefer hot and sour, westlake beef , or even wonton soup for that matter. Plus, I can be cheap. But there is one thing for sure about shark fin soup – it is expensive! A single serving can start at $10 for an individual serving and a whole bowl up to $100. And that is I think one of the reasons why it is popular – basic conspicuous consumption where shark fin soup is served during special events such as weddings or other celebrations to show that the hosts are wealthy and prosperous (and not cheap).
Worldwide, over 100 million sharks are killed a year, often just for their fins for this soup. The irony is that shark fin itself is flavorless – it’s basically cartilage that has a chewy texture. I would be surprised if imitation shark fin actually has more flavor than the real fins, though it may not match the texture that well.
California State Assembly member Paul Fong will introduce a bill to ban the sale of shark fin soup in California this coming week:
Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, plans to introduce a bill that would ban the sale of shark fin soup in California. But the effort to phase out this traditional Chinese delicacy could cause a rift among the eight members of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has already come out against the idea. Fong is carrying the bill along with another Bay Area Democrat, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael. Both are considered strong environmental votes. The pair plan to introduce their bill with a press conference in San Francisco on Monday – which also happens to be the heavily Asian-American city where Yee is considered the front-runner to be elected mayor this fall.
I actually live in Fong’s district and have met him many times, including his holiday get together in his downtown Mountain View office this past December. I was ecstatic that the ‘Godfather‘ was able to get the state of California to officially recognize and apologize for the racist Chinese Exclusion Acts that prevented Chinese immigration for decades, as well as many other discriminatory practices.
As for California State Assembly Yee, given the fact that San Francisco has the highest concentration of Chinese Americans in the United States and that he is running for mayor this fall, it’s no surprise he is against such an idea. But I’m hoping that this issue alone is not why any San Franciscan would vote for or against Yee.
On the surface of what I have read, I support this initiative. Just like the ban on importing ivory has not prevented the killing of elephants for their tusks, it has curbed it and created a greater awareness of the issue. I believe that banning shark fin soup in California will help certainly help draw greater attention to the genocide of sharks just for their fins. Restaurants can overcharge some other soup that isn’t environmentally unfriendly and literally call it Expensive Soup.