Friday, 12 August 2014
Recently, an old colleague started telling anyone who’d listen that Chinese restaurants are continuing to indulge the consumption of shark fin soup by listing it in their menus only in Chinese; and that the way to identify the practice is by recognising a very specific character: 翅. She wanted her like-minded militants to scan Chinese menus for that character and to cause a major scene wherever they might find them.
The only problem with that theory is that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this: fake shark fin soup. It’s written with the same character.
I’m not going to write the specific words that mean “fake shark fin soup” because that would be exceptionalising the dish, and encouraging the continued belief that there’s something wrong with the Chinese culture. There’s nothing wrong with it – the problem is with her theory. There are many words and metaphors in the Chinese language that indicate “fake”, “mock” and “vegetarian”. If she wants to take this approach, she should acquire a better understanding of the language.
I often find it hilarious when people start debating the morality of food. More than a billion people love shark fin soup. Nearly as many people find beef and pork repugnant to their beliefs. On the numbers alone, the opinions of 24 million Australians (assuming they are all agreed) doesn’t even amount to a rounding error. Yet people like her have convinced themselves that raising and herding up chickens and pigs and cows by the thousands for daily slaughter is somehow more humane.
In truth, her objections have nothing to do with morality and everything to do with defending the rights of cute and sympathetic creatures.
Cue the racist abuse.