Among the many things to do in Thailand are attending day long cooking schools. After talking to locals, I cancelled my planned class at the Blue Elephant in Bangkok. Instead, I went to the Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai. It turned out to be a great choice.
We went to the local food market which was just food and none of the trinkets found at markets near tourist hotels. There they taught us to pick the best of Thai ingredients, gave us shopping lists and off we individually went to buy our supplies. It’s an inspired way to do it, most schools just have you tag along with the leader and they buy while you watch.
Armed with my newfound knowledge, off I went to buy pea eggplant, prawns, raw cashews, and Thai cilantro (which doesn’t look anything like ours). We also have an extra 20 minutes or so to explore, taste, smell, learn on our own. I found delightful little custards, mini coffees (oh Caribou, how I miss you), tasted varieties of limes, sampled fruits and peppers (stick with bigger ones to burn less or smaller to burn more!), watched a pig carcass get butchered, longed to buy curry pastes (they only last 3 days, so I couldn’t), and had an absolute ball.
Back at the school kitchens, they demonstrated a dish start to finish and then sent us to our stations to do the same. I had to leave early to catch my flight, but during my half day I made cashew chicken (different and much better than what you might have had in the States), yellow curry with pork, steamed fish in banana leaves, and big noodles with sweet soy sauce. After we finished everything, we sat down to eat our creations. I was astounded how good everything was. The curry was my favorite, the steamed fish was good but nuclear (I might have used a little too much pepper for my untrained palate), and I was a happy camper. I’m embarrassed to admit a rookie mistake, but my camera died on the first picture of the class. Fortunately, they said they would take some and send them to me, though. (Since I haven’t gotten them, I’m using their pix from their website). All in all, it was a great experience I would highly recommend.
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