Shark’s Fin, Whale Meat and the Questionable Ethics of Taste
Source: The Wall Street Journal (Scene Asia blog)
Author: Adam Liaw
July 19, 2012
"Whether it’s drowning a tiny ortolan in Armagnac, live-filleting fish for Japanese ikizukuri or dunking shrimps in alcohol before eating them alive for Shanghainese zui xia, the history of food is peppered with acts of cruelty. The idea of eating something esoteric or exotic has titillated diners since the beginnings of gastronomy – but are these delicacies really all about taste?
How skillfully does a bird need to be drowned to make crunching its bones and sucking its innards more delicious? Does watching a dying fish’s last throes make sashimi more succulent? Mankind has seen animals slaughtered, stuffed and mounted for sport, but we’re just as likely to find these trophies at the end of a fork or a pair of chopsticks. This kind of gourmet gore may have been more acceptable during society’s more brutal periods, but today many modern sensibilities abhor such practices.
In Asia, a region notorious for its indifference to the plight of conquered species, the tide may be turning. China has declared that shark’s fin will be off the menu at official state functions, and South Korea’s recent saber-rattling on whaling lasted little more than a week before it was shouted down in condemnation, both foreign and domestic."
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