I found these pictures in my files and realized I never posted them because I crossed into Laos the day after this happened and, frankly, the Internet was pretty crappy there and I had better things to do than retell every adventure. In Cleveland neither of these seems to be a problem, so who wants to hear about my Chang Mai cooking class in Thailand?
Now fair warning: I’m not a very good cook, mainly because I’ve spent most of my time learning physics and in the lab than in the kitchen so far in my life. I’ve even had a guy once pick the other girl over me because she could cook and I couldn’t! (Ok there were other reasons too, but it was mentioned and I don’t let heartbreak get in the way of a good story.) So my level of experience is more firmly in the “pasta with a different kind of sauce” stage of culinary art, plus some Hungarian from my mom, plus now, apparently, Thai. Curiously the only cookbook I own is the complimentary little one I got from this course- someday I’d like to get better at cooking, but this isn’t something I’m seriously concerned about.
Anyway, the Thai cooking class started at one of many, many establishments in Chang Mai set up for this purpose (mine was called Baan Thai Cooking Course) where you get together a little before dinnertime and head to the market. The other option given to our class of about eight people was to learn how to grind up curry, but I figured it’s not like that’s something I’ll have ingredients to do from scratch at home even if I wanted to try! Plus who can turn down a market filled with Thai people alongside you picking up their own dinner ingredients?
Frankly I never quite decided if the provided baskets were cute or dorky, but there are a lot of things in life I can say that about.
I was involved in learning how to make three dishes, one appetizer and two mains, which were primarily chosen by our group with “what are the odds I can figure out how to make this when I get home?” These ended up being eggrolls, pad thai, and sweet and sour chicken.
Some of the ingredients we used in making our dishes. I will say one of the things that makes a Thai cooking course much more appealing than cooking at home is how they pre-cut and dice or whatever’s needed all the ingredients for you! So all that’s left is the actual cooking part, which is certainly a lot more fun way of doing things.
A woman in our group mixing up the ingredients for our pad thai, with the ingredients pre-cut and sorted as I mentioned. We then did the sweet and sour chicken where I learned the excellent tip that when at home ketchup can substitute as the main ingredient in the sauce instead of the complicated stuff they add in Thailand (along with soy sauce, sugar, and garlic), which probably has something to do with the fact that it’s the only dish I’ve tried making on my own once I came back to the USA! Sure it’s very unfortunately not quite the same, but neither is the stuff in the Thai restaurant down the block from me either.
Last but not least, me at the end of the cooking with the proud results of my labor. It sounds silly to admit it but by far the biggest thing I got out of my cooking class was an appreciation for eggrolls- they’re hard to fold properly! Namely it’s a several step process and you have to keep things tight without the dough breaking, so even after careful concentration I had to redo mine the first time.
So that’s essentially what one does in a typical Chang Mai cooking class, not counting the feast at the end thanks to all the delicious food. All in all it was a recommended way to spend the evening learning about Thai cooking and meeting fellow travelers, plus if you’re a real foodie it’s certainly a unique way to take your memories of Thailand home with you. Now if you’ll excuse me, reliving all these memories has made me hungry for a pad thai…