My hubby was watching the news earlier and something really grabbed my attention; Richard Branson was in China starting a campaign to dissuade the Chinese from eating Shark Fin Soup, a dish prized as one that Emperors used to dine on. Then we saw fishermen on their boats cutting all the fins off sharks while they were still alive and then throwing them back into the sea where they presumably drowned, a very sickening sight.
This was the second time in the last few months that I had heard about this practice but I hadn’t realised the sharks were mutilated whilst still alive. At our monthly gardening lesson in August our teacher, Joyce had four Shark Fin Melon plants up for grabs and as I was one of the first to arrive I was honoured with receiving one to put in our allotment. I must admit I said thank you very much but wondered what I’d accepted, I’m not that keen on melon.
|Our Shark Fin Melon Plant|
I found out that Shark Fin Melon (Cucurbita ficifolia) is not used as a fruit but as a vegetable, grown in a similar manner to squashes. The name has been given because the strands inside are scraped out and made into a broth that resembles the texture of Shark Fin Soup. The flavour, I’m told, is mild and of melon and cucumber. Joyce said that Shark Fin Melon was being promoted as an alternative to using actual shark fins in soup; I suddenly wanted to grow lots of these melons and donate them to any Chinese restaurant with Shark Fin Soup on the menu!
Joyce had received the seeds for these plants from Garden Organic who are trying to promote growing plants that are not usually grown in this area with their Sowing New Seeds project. The seeds for our plants originate from the allotment of a Vietnamese couple and if we get any fruit we have decided to save seeds to carry this on as there seem to be few suppliers offering them. Our plant has no flowers yet and is a tender perennial so I fear it may have been transplanted out too late but it has been a learning experience and I have not given up hope yet either.
I’m sure Richard Branson will have far more success saving sharks than I will with my allotment, I wonder if he knows about Shark Fin Melon? But I can help by spreading the word: eat melons not sharks!