04 October 2008

Chinese pandas love 'Jewish penicillin'

The affinity of the Jewish people for Chinese food is well-known. Now we learn of the affinity of the Chinese - pandas - for Jewish food, namely chicken soup.

To be fair, the Chinese do have a long tradition of drinking slow-simmered chicken broth for health. I'm wondering if the Persian Jewish merchants who arrived so long ago in Kaifeng brought it with them?

Celia Male of London just emailed me:

Flavour of the month in your blog is cooking [re your Iranian Jewish Cookbook] and for many, it means home-made chicken soup, as it gets colder and the nights draw in. "We" always knew it was good for us and now the pandas are getting it too. What could this mean genealogically-speaking?

"Don't worry, bubbelah. The soup's almost ready!"

Here's the Yahoo News link to the AP story Celia sent:

Everyone needs some chicken soup for the soul — even pandas.

The Wuhan Zoo in central China has been feeding its two pandas home-cooked chicken soup twice in a month to reduce stress and give them a nutritional boost, a zoo official said Friday.

He Zhihua said 3-year-old Xiwang and Weiwei — literally meaning "Hope" and "Greatness" — were tired and suffering from a little shock since the start Monday of the weeklong National Day holiday, one of the biggest travel seasons of the year.

On Wednesday, up to 30,000 people swarmed the zoo and about 1,000 tourists packed the panda enclosure, shouting to get the animals' attention, He said. The pandas paced restlessly.

"They had been getting less sleep, and they had to run around more," he said. "We felt it would be good to give them the soup because they were fatigued and had a bit of a shock."

Reflecting the Chinese tradition of drinking slow-cooked chicken soup for health, the zookeepers boiled roosters in water overnight and added a pinch of salt to the concentrated stock.

The pandas were served 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of soup in giant dishes, in addition to their regular diet of bamboo, milk and buns, He said.

It was a hit.

"They drank it all like they drank their milk. They loved it," he said.
Hey, if all YOU had to eat was tough bamboo, chicken soup would also sound good. I'm looking for a chain of fast-food chicken soup places in the nature preserves in which the pandas survive. And the tourists might like it also!

The story does not mention either matzo balls or Persian gondi. However, since pandas are also known to eat meat and small birds, the gondi might be of interest.

The pair were first fed chicken soup on Sept. 28 - nearly Rosh Hashanah - to help them brave the upcoming cold weather. When they exhibited no stomach problems, they ate it again this week.

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