So I took a cooking course. Initial sentiments likely revolve around whether of not an International Incident occurred, the kitchen burnt down or if anybody was carried out on a stretcher.
Sorry to disappoint, but none of the above occurred. In fact, the entire process of learning how to cook some of my favorite Thai dishes was truly an ingratiating experience. All of this coming from an individual who has mastered the art of making a delectable peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Before you laugh consider the following skills necessary to perfect such a craft. The ratio of peanut butter to jelly needs to be exact. It´s an art as much as it is a science. A little too much jam and you´re drowning in a sugary mucilaginous mess. A little heavy on the peanut butter and you´ve got a salty stick in the throat emergency room fiasco. Moreover, selecting the proper kind of bread (rye, sourdough, pumpernickel) is of utmost importance – no generically ´white´ crap is going to cut it here. Anyhow, enough with the self-depreciating humor.
I can make a few things well, namely pizza and cheesecake – both from scratch. However, the truth is that ever since I´ve been living abroad working and traveling in Asia, the necessity to become a whiz in the kitchen has been trumped by the plentiful supply of nickel-and-dime scrumptious local/regional cuisine readily available at my fingertips literally at any hour of the day. In the past few years, I´ve more likely spent time rummaging around in the pantry for a late night snack than I have cooking up any sort of gormandizing dainty delights to enjoy myself or to share with others.
Many a farang/backpacker comes to Thailand to soak up the sun and sand that the southern most parts of the country dish out readily both ponderous in quantity and quality. It´s truly world class in this area and I´m not at all suggesting the experience should be skipped. However, for those who head up to the less popular area in the northwest region, the cultural HUB of Chiang Mai awaits.
A smorgasbord of cultural and adventurous activities are on offer to satisfy the craving of just about any individual.
If you´re into trekking, elephant rides and exotic tropical rain-forests you´ve hit the right spot. On the other hand, if you´re looking to soak up as much culture as possible with visits to hill-tribes, temples, bustling outdoor markets along with mastering the arts of Muay Thai, massage, yoga and cooking you´ll never exhaust the abundant opportunities awaiting. I had dabbled in most of the above but had never taken a cooking course before in my life. I decided to plunge right in and take the ´full´ instead of the half day course. One might think it´s a bit much for such a rookie, but I managed to turn a few heads when it was all said and done.
As foreigners we all assembled in a very quaint and cozy cooking school in downtown Chiang Mai for a quick meet & great followed by a trip to the local market where our head chef and cooking instructor for the day carefully explained the ingredients used for Thai cooking along with a host of other useful tips to consider when selecting items or cooking things in general. Upon returning, we decide upon a host of different dishes we´re going to individually make for the day. A soup, spring roll, salad, noodle, main, curry and dessert dish are all offered in three different forms. It was hard to narrow it down to just one of each but I´m glad we had the choice!
The cooking itself was a lot of fun. The instructor carefully walked us through the procedures and dished out a plethora of useful information regarding techniques and general background of Thai food. It was fool proof enough in the sense that a dummy (such as myself) could feel comfortable enough to complete each task; yet, it had enough appeal for even the seasoned chef to gain a few tidbits of useful knowledge. The best part is that we got to devour each of our creations as the crowning achievement.
Overall, the experience was fantastic in the sense that it gave me a lot more confidence to try things in the kitchen. I don´t see myself as ever becoming a world class chef but I certainly can now make some tasty Thai dishes to impress company every once in a while. The best part, at least in my opinion, was the guide/recipe book given out at the end. From front to cover it covers all of the recipes along with introductions to Thai cuisine, ingredients and background information. Anything forgotten on the intensive one day cooking experience is within the cover of the book for future reference.
It´s something I highly recommend for those willing to give it a shot. I truly mean it when I say the following: If I can do it ANYBODY CAN!
I got distracted at pizza and cheesecake! It was fun to click back to this older post and see how far you’ve come now, Samuel! Great job. Btw…you forgot one thing about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Whether you are going to really gourmet-it-up and grill it! 🙂
Thanks Mike! Maybe even add a few strips of bacon to the grilled pb & j 😉
It sounds to be a great experience and the food looks delicious! Thanks for sharing.
It really was John! I’d do it again 🙂
I took a cooking class in Pai a few months back and have to say it was one of the best experiences (even though I never cook anything)… 🙂
Raymond, I feel the same way! I’m all thumbs in the kitchen but this sure was fun 😛
Some of those look absolutely amazing! I know Chiang Mai is no secret place, but the more I keep reading about it the more I really feel like we need to visit it. Loved the photos, but they made me hungry! =)
Dayna, it certainly is popular – especially with digital nomads – but I feel it is a place that lives up to the hype.
looks delicious! 🙂
I have to admit, it was! 🙂
I love cooking classes! I did a Thai cooking class in Chaing Mai and it was the one that started my love for cooking classes! I now take them in every (non western) country I visit!
Jade, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve started taking cooking courses in many countries I visit after this initial great experience 🙂
So much fun! We believe that food is a wonderful way to absorb culture and you hit a bullseye! Thanks for sharing your experience-loved it! David & Veronica
Thanks, I couldn’t agree with you more 🙂
We took cooking classes when we visited Chiang mai several years ago. It was a fabulous experience and one that has stayed with us for a long time. In fact, we are just planning a big thai meal to enjoy on New Years and are using the mad skillz we picked un in Chiang Mai to execute it.
That’s awesome! I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t tried making many things since I took the course. I bet you’re going to have one great meal together though 🙂
I would love to do this! Admittedly, I don’t cook nearly as much as I should, but curry was the very first dish I ever learned how to make (while living in Denmark, oddly enough).
WoW! Learning to make curry in Denmark 🙂 I first learned to make Korean food in Canada.
Whew, left my mouth watering. One thing I’ve really been missing here in Denmark is great Asian food.
Hey Alex, I feel your pain. When I’m away from Asia I rarely eat Asian food – price and quality is a bad match.
Looks fantastic. I love learning to cook new things 🙂
Thanks James, it’s a lot of fun!
Hi Samuel, It’s been 11 years since I took my cooking classes in Chang Mai. I’s like to say that my dishes have improved but you know how it is!
I have added the link to The Travel Bloggers Guide to Thailand I’m developing. I hope you don’t mind? http://www.thedepartureboard.com/the-travel-bloggers-guide/asia/thailand
Kind regards, Si
I’m sure you must be an expert by now! 🙂
Glad to hear that no international incidents occurred as a result of your cooking class! 🙂
All of it looks yummy and makes me want to run to the nearest Thai resto for a good meal.
LOL, I was surprised I was able to keep up 😛 I miss Thai food these days 🙁
We LOVE Thai food, and these dishes look amazing! We’ve only done a cooking source while traveling once, while we were in Curacao, but it was an awful lot of fun. I’ve got a friend in Thailand, so we definitely hope to get there at some point in the next few years.
Bret, when you get there and have an opportunity to try it, I think you’ll love it.
This is something I really wish I had done when I was in Thailand. The dishes look delicious!
Becky, that’s too bad you didn’t get a chance to try it. Next time for sure! 🙂
We took a similar class in Battambang, Cambodia. It was a great way to meet like minded people and break bread together
Cam, I took a cooking course in Battambang as well. I did mine at Nari’s Kitchen? Do you remember where you did yours? I loved Battambang and actually ended up staying weeks instead of days.
Sounds like a good worthwhile experience, guess it’s “hands on” tourism. See more and more of these cooking schools opening up in Pattaya, I think they are a great alternative to the usual tourist trail, and certainly in good taste, pardon the pun.
A lot of foreigners rank Thai food at (or near) the top of their favourite cuisines. Having the chance to make it with a local expert in a cozy environment is awesome IMO
Oh yum! I love making (and eating) Thai food. Never took a proper course, just self-taught from a cookbook I bought in Thailand but would love to try it someday.
Thanks impressive Andrea. Some of the best Thai food I’ve ate before came from restaurants/places outside of Thailand.
Forget the cooking course, I just want the photos – they look good enough to eat themselves =D
LOL, Thai food really is that tasty.
I did a Thai cooking course on my recent trip to Chiang Mai. Definitely a great experience! I was so full afterwards from eating my awesome food 😉
LOL, Dean, I can relate to what you;re saying. By the time I finished everything it was the equivalent of several helpings from a buffet table.
Something I really wanna do when we revisit Thailand! Though I got a feeling I’d be defeated by this nasty thing called ‘laziness’ and I might just order that cheap street Pad Thai. Haha!
LOL, well you wouldn’t be the only one to succumb to that. I put off going for days on end.
What was the name of the cooking school you did? Looks like a great experience.
Hey Rachel, the website is ChiangMaiSmartCook.com I highly recommend it! Are you thinking of going during winter/summer break?
I’m planning to take a cooking course in Thailand myself to fuel my new found and long lost interest in cooking! 🙂 Would you recommend this particular course you attended and if yes can you please pass in the contact details?
Lavanya, I definitely recommend it! ChiangMaiSmartCook.com
One of my favourite memories from Thailand was a cooking class in Chiang Mai, I highly recommend it.
Do you remember which school you attended?
I can’t remember at all, but it was a market tour in the morning and then a class in the afternoon. I think it was one of the original classes, it was out of her home.
That’s totally understandable. There’s like a zillion places offering those courses. That’s cool it was one of the original ones though!
I also did the cooking course in Chiang Mai, it was great fun and I learned a lot. Btw. those spring rolls look delicious!
Thanks Jarmo, I love ME the spring rolls 🙂 Even the crappy ones I make 😛
I completely understand, since I suck at cooking but had an amazing experience the first time I took a cooking class in BA. Everything looks delicious!
Thanks Stephanie, I regret not trying a class when I was in BA. I know I’ll be back there again. I’ll have to ask you about the course you checked out sometime when I’m back there.
I didn’t get to take a class the first time I was there but fully intend to do it next time. That food looks delicious!
Next time D! I’ve been to Thailand maybe 10 times now and there are many things I’ve yet to do.
We are going to be in Chiang Mai in a couple weeks and I was thinking of taking a cooking class. After your feedback, I think I have made up my mind! It looks like a great time, and a great way to connect with the local culture through food.
Shanna, it’s definitely worth a try IMO. I’m not a cook nor do I have a passion for learning how to make things but I really enjoyed this!
They all look appetizing! 🙂
Thanks Lourry, I easily get hungry looking at close-up shots of Thai food myself.
I don’t even like Thai food all that much but these shots are beautiful! I might just have to give Thai cuisine another try…
I think you should Angie! There is a lot on offer.