Kalamata and her stuffed pal alligator Al Dente is all set for another escapade. This time, the imaginary journey is through an Indian spice market where she indulges herself in a delicious experience.
The first 'Kalamata's Kitchen' book in partnership with Random House Books for Young Readers will hit the book stores on July 20. The book written by Indian-American author Sarah Thomas nudges children to try new food. The book not only just introduces food from across the world but also gives an idea about the culture of each place.
Kalamata's Kitchen was initially launched as a series of self-published children's book in 2018 where Kalamata, an Indian American girl explores food through her imaginary culinary world. In the latest series, Kalamata is nervous to join her new school and tries to overcome her inhibitions by remembering her recent trip to India where she bravely tried new things and explored the spice market filled with exciting aromas.
“The act of trying new food lets you try new things. This is what I tell kids when they come to try new food. Similarly, Kalamata will have the courage to face new things,” says Sarah Thomas.
The aroma and the sound of mustard seeds popping along with cumin and other spices invoke memories in Kalamata of what it feels like to try new things.
Sarah Thomas was inspired by the childhood memories of her mother cooking the dal curry and thought of penning down the emotions through Kalamata's Kitchen. “The book has the recipe of my mother's special dal curry. I feel food can comfort you if you are nervous. Also, it helps them (children) to be more open-minded when they try new food,” says Sarah.
Sarah is currently working on developing an animated series of Kalamata's Kitchen and plans to widen its reach to other multimedia properties. A Taste Bud Travel Guide to kid-friendly restaurants in 16 cities is also being done by Sarah. She also organises tasting events but had to stop during the Covid pandemic. “We had planned tasting tours in 12 cities in the US in 12 months for kids but had to set aside due to the pandemic. We are hoping to resume soon once the situation comes back to normal,” adds Sarah. Sarah keeps asking the kids to taste all food items at least two times and lets them take the 'Taste Bud Pledge'- “I promise to keep my mind open and my fork ready, to try each new food at least two times and share what's on my plate when someone doesn't have enough.”
Sarah believes learning about new things promotes empathy, which makes life more delicious.
If you want to inspire your child to try out new dishes, you can also pre-order the book here. Kalamata's Kitchen
Kalamata- the idea
The idea of 'Kalamata's Kitchen' came to Sarah's business partner Derek Wallace. “He wanted a way to connect his young son to the things that he loves. He thought if there was a character that existed that teaches kids about everything else, why isn't there a character that teaches kids about food. That's how we came up with the idea of Kalamata,” says Sarah. After airing the idea of the brand, Derek asked if she could create this character and write stories. Sarah loved the idea and it resonated with her and that's how Kalamata, was born. “We want every kid to see themselves in Kalamata and see that it's possible to see yourself in different kitchens in different places all over the world through food,” Sarah says.
Sarah's parents hail from Kerala and both of them cooks well. This also helped Sarah indulge in trying new food. According to her, Kerala cuisine is so layered and her comfort food is beef fry.