Cooking with Emotion

One tuk tuk, two taxi cabs and one sleeper train/Hell on wheels later, I am pleased to announce that I have broken the seal and tasted Thai food in Thailand. Dare I say, I’m sick of it? Dare I admit to eating at Pizza Hut last night? Let’s digress. None of that is neither here nor there. The purpose of this specific blog is to tell you about the Thai cooking class I partook in during my first night in Chiang Mai; my second stop in Thailand.

I was relieved to find out that there is indeed another way to experience culinary Thai culture that doesn’t  involve flies or sewar water. Enter Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School of Chiang Mai. Sarcasm aside, if you ever have the chance to visit Chiang Mai, a cooking class at this school is a must. Our instructor alone was reason enough to take this course. Not only was her English stellar, but her comedic timing was phenomenal. She took every possible opportunity to make a sexual innuendo and had no issues making fun of the ignorant tourists (myself included) to our faces. Unfortunately, her name escapes me and I can’t find her on the website, so for all intents and purposes, I will refer to her as Betsy.

Our group of ten was given the task of choosing three out of five options: appetizer, stir fry, soup, curry and dessert. Not awkward at all when you’re working with a group of strangers. We chose soup, stir fry and curry. Within those categories I made chicken with cashews, tom yum soup and red curry.

Betsy began by giving us a tour of the school’s city garden, where they grow a slew of Thai produce and herbs, naturally, used in the dishes we made. She then walked us to the street market and showed us different kinds of thai rice, noodles, coconut milk and palm sugar. FYI, street markets in Chiang Mai appear in my nightmares much less than those in Bangkok.

The cooking portion was equally fun, as Betsy insisted that we flavor our food with our emotion. Salt lovers like me add more fish sauce, spicy lovers use more chiles and cut them into smaller pieces. Sweet lovers add more palm sugar. Too salty? Too spicy? Too sweet? Just add lime.

Of course, Thai cuisine is typically known to be spicy. Admittedly, I am a major wimp with spicy food. When Betsy portioned out our homemade curry paste, she used the analogy of kindergarten, high school and university; kindergarten being the least spicy and so on. I’ll let you guess what I chose.

At the end of the night, we were given a cookbook of all of the recipes to take home. I’m thinking I won’t be craving Thai food for at least six months but come December, I’ll be sure to host my own Thai cooking party. Emotion included.

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