Dinner with Su Tseng-Chang

As is tradition during trips to Taiwan, we had dinner with Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and his wife, Chan Hsiu-ling (詹秀齡). But this time, I had an agenda. :)

Dad, Su Tseng-chang, Mrs. Su, Mom, Wendy, and me at dinner in Taipei

I had asked my father to mention to "Uncle Su" my interest in the subject of Taiwan and shark-finning. Most of the media work done regarding shark finning and shark conservation is targeted at folks who are already into shark conservation. What good does that do? The message needs to be delivered into areas where it will make the most difference.

Part of the reason we had this dinner scheduled was so that I could chat with Mr. Su about Taiwan's policy concerning shark, shark-finning, and the lack of worldwide enforcement of the policy. Unfortunately, my language skills are too weak to talk about anything other than food and other household topics, so much of the conversation needed translation.

When we arrived, we discovered shark's fin soup on an all-seafood menu for the evening. The irony was almost tangible.

shark's fin soup was on the menu

Here's the problem: upon hearing that someone as important as Mr. Su would be having dinner, the restaurant immediately prepared all of the "best stuff," which always includes shark's fin soup. This is automatic and consistent, and you are always going to get shark's fin soup at important dinners. I pointed out the shark's fin soupness when everyone arrived, and Mr. Su immediately had it removed from the evening's menu (and stated that it wasn't a normal thing for his meals). I asked for an all-vegetarian dinner (along with my sister, who is vegetarian). I think my mother was pretty embarrassed that I made such a big deal about it, but it was the right thing to do.

Mr. Su had a packet prepared for me: Taiwan's official policy toward sharks. I have yet to read and digest it, but it will definitely be interesting.

Unrelated: a week later, we hung out a bit with Mr. Su's daughter, Chiaoning. When we were younger, we never had anything to say to each other (language and culture barrier!), but now that we're all adults, it was nice to become re-aquainted with each other.

[see all photos @ flickr]