President Obama Finds Himself In A Shark Fin ‘Soup’
A recent attempt by President Barack Obama to stay connected to his American roots has gone haywire. The shark fin soup never spelt so much trouble for anyone as it is doing for the Prez, who recently visited San Francisco’s Great Eastern restaurant. Now, there is nothing wrong with this restaurant except for the fact that it has the shark fin soup on its menu.
1) Obama’s Day Out
President Obama was on a visit to the Bay Area as part of his voyage of the American landscape ahead of the next Presidential elections. In the course of his visit, he was supposed to do what any serious food lover in San Francisco would do, visit the Chinatown establishment for his dose of dumplings and buns. Though, he could have chosen any of the dozens of establishments in the Bay Area for his outing but he chose Great Eastern and that sounded the sirens for the animal rights activists, who have been vying for the restaurants that serve shark fin soup. It doesn’t matter for the critics that Obama ordered just “shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings, steamed pork buns, Shanghai dumplings, and stuffed mushrooms”, and nothing that was remotely related to the soup.
2) Height of Cruelty
For those who know, shark fin soup is the worst form of cruelty after production of foie gras. Fishermen catch sharks, tear off their fins and then throw them back into water, leaving them to die a slow and painful death. Catching sharks for their fins is a double offence in San Francisco and Obama himself has signed a law called Shark Conservation Act in January 2012, which his critics were quick to point out. When the soup faced severe criticism in the UK, the government decided to take it off the menus.
3) Great Eastern ‘Tragedy’
The restaurant serves three types of shark fin soup sold in the range of $28 and $48. The irony is that selling the soup is not an offence in itself. However, with the Californian law already banning shark finning, the restaurants have the deadline of July 1, 2013, by which they have to stop selling shark fin soup. One of the leading animal rights organizations in the world, PETA, made a heart-rending appeal to the Michelin CEO, asking the organization from not awarding Michelin stars to establishments selling this soup.
Although, President Obama is a genuine advocate of animal rights, it has not stopped his detractors from pouncing upon his choice of restaurant. Food Critic Jonathan Kauffman retorts, “President Obama should have known better than to go to such a middling dim sum establishment.” Harsh choice of words, it may seem, but then that is what people feel about shark fin soup and the restaurants selling it.
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