Confession: I ate shark fin soup

Photo by Albert Kok http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tiger_shark.jpg

Late in 1998 a man hauled a shark out of the sea. With a sharp knife he hacked off its fins and put them somewhere safe, then he tossed the mutilated fish back into the ocean. Its blood clouded the salty sea. Unable to swim, the shark sank to the sea bed where it died a slow death… all so I could eat a bowl of soup.

No… No… No. That won’t do. I never saw the shark die. I don’t know its final moments. I don’t know who caught it, and where or when or how. But, yes, I did eat the soup, and whenever I think of that meal I paint the above picture in my mind. It is possible that it is a perfect portrayal but I just don’t know for sure. Continue reading

The dark history and uncertain future of edible pink gold

The former shrimp farmer made me nervous. He was at least 6’4″ tall in his cowboy boots and he looked just like Pablo Escobar.

He was driving fast, taking me away from his grand gated mansion in a suburb of Ecuador’s port city of Guayaquil and towards a private airstrip and a plane he had built with his own hands.

They were the biggest hands I have ever seen. As they gripped the steering wheel he told me how another plane he had built had crashed a week earlier, killing his friend the pilot. “That’s life,” he said with a sigh. Continue reading