Confession #1: I am not the best cook. The funny thing is, I love watching cooking shows on TV (Australian Masterchef is awesome everyone) but don’t really enjoy cooking for myself. But when I was in Chiang Mai recently I thought I would enrol in a class at the and see if I couldn’t improve my skills in the kitchen.
The class begins with a visit to the local market. Did you know there are about 12 different rice varieties you can choose from? My beginner cooking brain was in awe. Our guide also showed us how they make coconut products. Some of the group picked up interesting snacks, and one guy even tried this disgusting-looking fermented egg. As you can imagine, it didn’t go down a treat.
After the market visit we had to drive for about an hour to the school. We each got our own cooking station and viewed the guide cooking the meal first before attempting it ourselves.
My first attempt was Tom Yum Soup, which was okay, but not great. I’m just not a soup addict. I blame growing up in North Queensland. Then we made a Beef Curry, which turned out better. Next was Chicken and Cashew Nut and Pad Thai. I may have had some help from one of the very nice assistants, but these dishes were the best of all. I am not a fan of spicy food, and of course Thai cooking is all about the chilli. So I left my chilli to the side while cooking these dishes. But the assistants couldn’t let them go to waste. Oh no, they had to eat them whole. My eyes watered just looking at them doing it. Mouths of steel I say.
When we finished cooking we had the chance to sit down and really enjoy our meals. We even got to try their traditional dessert – sticky rice with mango. We left with our own cookbooks that included these recipes and more and with our cooking skills improved.