ll cooking classes are not created equal
I've been told I’m on the picky side of eating. Well, yes admittedly so. As a child it took me hours to eat. I wasn’t a fan of eating. Don’t get me wrong, when pasta was on the table I ate. No one holds a candle to mom's lasagna.
But I had a good reason. I do have a fear of food because I’ve struggled with a sensitive stomach my whole life (see toilet tips and the importance of being prepared).
Cooking class seemed to me to be the best way to understand where the food is coming from, how its prepared and, possibly new ways to try new foods.
That is how one of my favorite ‘tourist attractions’ is the unique [experience] of a cooking class in whatever city I’m visiting. I’ve tried dozens and, though not all of them were outstanding, they all did offer an insight to the culture and practices of daily life.
The first cooking class in Thailand was my favorite, probably because I was with my bestie and the young woman running the class, Lawan, was so enthusiastic.
There are options for full-day or half-day tours. We choose the ½ day. To start with, we were picked up at our hotel and gathered with other travelers from other hotels who had signed up for the class. This is a standard procedure, sometimes tedious but the first step in meeting people with like interests from all around the world.
Once we arrived at the kitchen/school, Lawan gave us a quick description of what we were about to encounter (I think she must have been a teacher - she was so prepared and organized). Next, we were given our outstanding authentic headwear, partly to keep an eye on her students and it set the mood for light hearted fun.
Then, we marched toward the market,all 8 of us in the class. Lawan explained to us how the cook of the family, traditionally the mom, goes to the market for her ingredients on a daily basis. So not only did we learn how and what to cook but insights to a typical family life.
I loved that first market. The smell of the spices was delicious to the senses. Understanding the difference between the spices is crucial to survival. There is a range from sweet and delightfully flavorful to... where is the nearest hospital my eyes are melting. When your tongue awakens to new flavors when your tastebuds scream:
Chica! why were you holding out out on me all these years? Honey what are you waiting for?
That first [experience] was enough to convince me of the error of my ways. Now I try as many new foods as possible.
Next, we went back to the kitchen and organic garden. We were asked to go through the garden and identify the smells we had just experienced in the market.
Then, Lawan now gave us all a choice of dishes to cook. We prepared the as a group and each student chose an entre to prepare. I chose to make the medium-spicy Curry Chicken.
For the first appetizer, Lawan explained it’s meaning, and how it was traditionally offered as a welcoming gesture, conveying the honor to have you in one’s home. This immediately brought 8 strangers together as we continued to learn and cook and eat together in Thai fashion.
The appetizer we enjoyed was called Miang Kham “welcoming one bite appetizer”. Here is the recipe: http://www.rachelcooksthai.com/miang-kham/
This particular class was extraordinarily organized. Lawan had some young helpers that were practicing their English - it was adorable and we were happy to help. A truly heartwarming experience with a home cooked meal.
Chiang Mai Thailand