Found a box of golden wings and marveled. They are actually dried shark fins, calcified bundles of clear golden fibers that curl like hair at the ends. They glistened. They smelled of the ocean. I hate to say it, but they smelled like the end of a multi-course Chinese banquet, which is shark's fin soup.
To the Chinese, shark's fins are the penultimate delicacy. The soup can fetch $100 a bowl. It's served as a display of wealth and cultivate at fancy banquets and weddings. But the past few decades the Chinese obsession with shark's fin soup has lead to the gradual extinction of the species. Fisherman "fin" the sharks, a horrific practice where the fins are cut and the de-finned sharks get thrown back into the ocean. In recent years global movements have risen up against the sale and consumption of shark's fins. Yao Ming stated he will never eat shark's fin soup again, and the state of Hawaii was the first in the U.S. to ban the sale. My dad's family loved consuming exotic and obscenely expensive Chinese cuisine (dried mussels, abalone, or dried roe) so this is not surprising. It's just very strange
The fins themselves don't taste like much. After they are soaked they become a gelatinous noodles that is rubbery like calamari but also crunchy. You're in it for the soup. It's faintly fishy, supposedly with restorative health properties. I can recycle these golden shark fins one day for a very special occasion like my wedding or much closer on the horizon, when I finally move out of the house. Yes, these will be the last shark fins I will ever eat.