Sesame oil, fresh ginger, garlic and star anise are some of the key flavours of cooking in Chongqing in China. Charlie combined them all with beef https://youtu.be/4YLf63Me6ME to create a rich, succulent dish in his two-tier kitchen hanging over the Yangtze River gorge.
As the designated sous chef, my role was limited to chopping tomatoes and mushrooms but it meant I had time to chat with a local radio presenter and even do a short interview. Her programme covers new cultures – introducing the citizens of Chongqing to different music and arts.
Charlie himself is active in the cultural scene: his backpacker hostel decorated by different artists is the perfect alternative to anyone who has had enough of super-sophisticated high rise hotels. It was a delight to catch another aspect of the creative side of China.
Charlie was the most generous of hosts: not only did he give us an extraordinary lunch but, as we left, he pressed a bracelet in to my hand. It was a circle of simple wooden beads made special having been blessed by monks and given by him. A precious moment of a very happy day.
I think that we showed how food transcends barriers of disability, culture, language and more: once we were working together, it was easy to communicate our shared enthusiasm and experiences. A true meeting of minds and a language that goes beyond words.
Penny Melville-Brown OBE
Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk
Helping disabled people to work since 2000