Court Upholds the Ban on Shark Fins
If you've got a mad craving for shark fin soup, you're still out of luck: Yesterday the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously refused to block the ban on shark fins during a current lawsuit against a law passed in 2011 banning their possession. The law, which only went into effect earlier this year, is being contested by San Francisco Chinese restaurants on the grounds that it's discriminatory (shark fin soup is a delicacy in Chinese restaurants). They asked to have the ban lifted as they pursue the lawsuit.
Flickr/nicwn Shark fins drying on a Hong Kong sidewalk. If you're caught with one here, you could be slapped with a $1,000 fine.
But the Court of Appeals said that the restaurants couldn't prove "irreparable harm" if they weren't allowed to sell the soup, and thus, the controversial fin would stay out of restaurant kitchens for now.
The law banning shark fins was sponsored by animal-protection groups, in part to stop fishermen from slicing fins off live sharks, a practice that advocates of the bill say is common. The fins are also said to have high levels of mercury.
Back when the law was being discussed in 2011, former SF Weekly food editor Jonathan Kauffman wrote a terrific piece on the politics and pleasures of shark fin soup. It's still a relevant read today. In case you never had the chance to eat shark fin soup (I never did), Kauffman's description almost makes you feel as though you had:
At Great Eastern, the soup can be ordered by the individual portion, though each costs $32. When I received my half-pint bowl, I could see tufts of crabmeat floating below the surface of a thick, clear brown broth, which seemed to have ripples frozen within it. When I raised up a spoonful to look, the ripples revealed themselves to be hundreds of delicately arced, transparent threads of cartilage, each the size of a pine needle.
Despite its price, the soup was no culinary masterpiece. The pork-and-chicken broth lacked complexity and depth, if not cornstarch. But the shark's fin was exquisite: Each filament was silky and jellied, but with a delicately chewy texture. As I sipped the soup, the filaments fluttered against every surface of my mouth, impossible to pinpoint, like walking through the mist halo of a sprinkler and trying to identify where each drop lands on your skin.
[via the Examiner]