2012: The Year of the Ban

On July 1, 2012, California banned foi gras. Beginning January 1, 2013, shark fin will be illegal in the State. The practice of shark finning, cutting off a shark’s fin at sea and then tossing it back into the water to bleed to death, has been illegal in the US but the import has not.

Shark fin is a delicacy in Chinese cuisine and I have eaten it all through my life. Shark fin soup is common on banquet menus for weddings and birthdays. It symbolizes wealth and is a sign of appreciation to guests.

Earlier this month, I attended a 90th birthday celebration. Dinner was held at Mayflower Seafood Restaurant in Milpitas and included shark fin soup. Unlike other times where a large tureen of shark fin soup would be brought out for the table, we were served individual shark fin soup in a cooked papaya.

The soup was piping hot. You could eat the generous amount of shark fin, drink the broth, and eat the papaya. The papaya made the broth quite sweet which was different. I felt a bit guilty about the shark, but I also knew it would be the last time I would be consuming shark fin. I had my last taste of shark fin soup and it was pretty special.