Finis for the fins?
Posted by ampontan on Saturday, December 3, 2011
Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and remain silent.
SOCIAL critic Miyazaki Masahiro offered some observations on recent trends in Chinese cuisine earlier this week. Here they are in English.
With everything else being destroyed in China, is the core of their food culture also at risk? Shark fin soup, the sine qua non of sophisticated Chinese cuisine, has become a target of attack. This has surprised both the Chinese and the Japanese, who export shark fins to China. Activists have converged on Shanghai to strip the Chinese of their dietary culture by demanding that people stop eating shark fin on some pretext or other — environmental protection, ecological protection, anything will do.
Japan has been deprived of the whale. In China too, bear paws and dog meat are now de facto illegal. (Manchuria is an exception. There, dog meat restaurants still flourish.) Stewed bear paw has, for all intents and purposes, been banned for about two years. The primary reason cited was hygiene, and now there is mock bear. But bear paws are considered an indispensable part of elegant dining, though it took a month of stewing in a pot to soften them and remove the toxicity.
Whole grilled squab is popular in Guangdong, but the shops serving civet have disappeared from the main streets. A campaign promoting a trial tasting of dog meat had been scheduled, but was canceled.
Most people in Beijing no longer eat dog meat. Even in Guangdong, owl eyes, which had been a favorite of young women (because they were said to improve eyesight), are not as popular as they once were, and there are signs that grilled squab (doves) will be the next target. (Why it is that Japanese women’s groups don’t criticize the Chinese for eating the symbol of peace, I don’t understand.)
And then there is shark fin.
It’s said that 30% of the world’s shark species are threatened with extinction, and most of those have disappeared into Chinese stomachs. China imports most of its shark fin from Japan. It became so scarce after the Tohoku earthquake that local fishermen began receiving premium prices.
WildAid was held on 22 September 2011 in Shanghai, and many Chinese were surprised to see basketball star and national hero Yao Ming in attendance. Most Chinese love shark fin soup (N.B.: It’s traditionally served at wedding banquets), and a controversy erupted when Yao Ming and Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, held a news conference to declare that eating shark fin was barbaric and should be banned.
I wonder — is this the first time Chinese food culture has come under simultaneous attack from inside and outside the country?
The World Park Junkies have survived all these years, so maybe shark fin soup will too.
This entry was posted on Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 1:00 am and is filed under China, Food, Social trends. Tagged: Fish. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.