4 November 2010

Shark Fin Culture

Shark fin soup is an extremely popular delicacy in China, as it's also an outward expression of wealth and social status for those who can afford it. But it's interesting to note the wide difference in public opinion about the consumption of shark fin soup between citizens in mainland China and many Hong Kong residents. 

Though there is some heated debate in Hong Kong about the sale of shark fin soup, most residents are ambivalent when it comes to forming an opinion about the practice used in harvesting shark fin. I remember several years ago there was criticism aimed at Hong Kong Disneyland for including shark fin soup on its menu. Once activists discovered this it was only a matter of time before Disneyland officials bowed to pressure and completely removed the item from its menu. Nearly all large restaurants in Hong Kong still serve the delicacy.

In contrast, there is little to no fuss about the consumption of shark fin soup in mainland China. This most likely isn't a true reflection of all opinions though, but there is stark contrast in attitudes between the Chinese in the mainland and Chinese in Hong Kong. 

Though I'm a unable to remember the source, there is a saying about Chinese culinary habits to the effect that the Chinese will eat almost any kind of animal. But it's important to note that this was not communicated to me in a perjorative sense, especially as it was a local person in Hong Kong who revealed this to me. Rather, it's meant to communicate the love affair between the Chinese and food, as well as the colorful and rich culinary skills of a people keen to sample exotic cuisines, and shark fin soup is no exception.

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