A book, good food and a moment of togetherness lead to a commitment.
Here we are one evening around the dinner table. One of us is about to leave for China and conversation is lively.
Our discussions lead us to the realization that ‘culture shock’ isn’t found in the cuisine. Quite to the contrary; Chinese people enjoy spending meal times together just as much as we do.
This topic that can bring us closer, as it’s true that the pleasures of the palate knows no boundaries.
We agree to produce a children’s book combining culture with a colourful tour of world cuisine. It will be narrated by an iconic character and the illustrations will leap out from every page.
Little Chef Panda was an obvious choice for a thousand and one reasons.
According to a passage in an ancient Chinese geography book, the panda is described as “a black and white animal that looks like a bear and feeds on copper and iron.” The reason for this is that pandas used to lick and nibble kitchen utensils in villages.
Our main character is thus caught in the act of gluttony with a pinch of adventurous curiosity.
As we continue our research we learn that pandas are unfortunately an endangered species.
These animals, that inspire the adorable, soft toys huddled in the arms of our children, are threatened with extinction. The fact remains that there are only 1,600 left in the wild in China and just 300 in captivity around the world.
We also learn how difficult it is for pandas to breed and keep their babies alive.
An example of a sad event that particularly affected us occurred in Japan. One morning in July 2012 a baby panda was found dead at Ueno Zoo. Sadness spread throughout the archipelago.
The attendants had found the loved animal lying on its back on its mother Shin Shin’s belly. Before its death, she had noticed the small cries of her baby and held it tenderly giving it her milk. Her love was not enough to save it as the baby panda had a physiological defect.
Aware of the plight of pandas, and more than just a recreational and cultural book, we want to give the “Little Chef Panda” character has an additional dimension so it tells the plight of endangered animals and the state of our planet with our different partners.