It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that much of my grandfather's life was built around that soup, built around the idea that he could show the world and himself that he'd finally made it, that he could literally feed his family his success.
The opposing argument:
[T]he cultural import of the dish is, to be frank, as much about the demonstration of status as anything else, and there is no limit to the creativity of aspirational culture to come up with the next big status symbol. I mean, go ahead and buy another pair of Prada shoes instead of taking me out for shark's fin. It's fine. I don't mind, and after a while, you're not going to mind either. After all, the nature of status symbols is that the more they're attained, the shallower their actual meaning, and the more attractive the next, other thing eventually becomes.
(Photo: Shark fin soup with shrimp dumpling by Flickr user Richard S. Donovan)