since arriving in thailand, i’ve wanted to do a cooking class (food, weird). we looked at a few in bangkok, but missed out on the one i really want to do, “cooking with poo” (this is for real, she’s actually pretty famous) and decided to table the idea for chiang mai. at the recommendation of our wonderful guesthouse owner, Mr. Kem, we booked a full-day “farm” class with Asia Scenic Cooking School and i’m so glad we did. it started in town where we learned about a bunch of different menu items and got to select what we wanted to make (this in itself is different than most of the set-menu courses). i, of course, made sure that danny and i strategically picked different things so that we could double our knowledge and tasting for the day. a plan that didn’t go quite as expected.
after we’d made our selections and met our group & course instructor for the day, we headed into the thai market to pick out vegetables, spices and learn what to look for.
fresh coconuts everywhere and used for almost everything. fresh fish, anyone?
so many pastes & powders. how about some animal hearts & livers? yuummm…
from the market, our group of 8 — two kiwis, two dutch, two germans, two tings + our FANTASTIC 24-year-old instructor “Fun” — loaded into a van and headed outside of the city to the organic farm. we were so delighted when we arrived at this lush, picture-perfect thai farmhouse setting with produce and a big open-air kitchen and school area.
this is “Fun” and we had the best day with her. her english was great, she was super excited to learn new words (we taught her “soggy” and she was thrilled), her energy, spirit and laugh was infectious.
and this is the moment that danny started feeling really hot, took off his rice patty hat and his day took a major turn… for the toilet.
after the garden tour, we sat down to have a traditional thai “welcome snack” that’s bunch of little flavors drizzled with honey and wrapped in a leaf. really interesting and unusual, but also incredibly refreshing and palette cleansing.
post-snack…. let the cooking begin! we strapped on our aprons and got started with our first courses. as our group huddled around our community table, danny took off his apron and said he was going to sit this course out. wasn’t feeling good. clearly, something was up because the first dish was pad-thai (danny’s favorite), so we knew something wasn’t right, although at this point, we weren’t sure if it was a super delayed hangover or if he’d caught a bug. so as we chopped, he sat down with some hot tea…. and that was all it took to send danny running for the restroom. oh, the wonderful open-aired (no joke), basic restroom immediately adjacent to our classes cooking station. see our cooking ovens & woks back there… see that orange wall with no ceiling? behind it – toilet. that’s the bathroom.
taaaaaa–daahhhhhh! isn’t it beautiful? it was seriously so delicious.
next up: spring rolls. danny emerged from behind the orange wall and we were all cheering for a puke-and-rally situation. being the good sport he is, he strapped on the apron and started wrapping a spring roll.
here’s the finished appetizer products: papaya salad & spring rolls. poor d didn’t survive long enough to try fruits of his labor. in fact, that was the end of his day at cooking class. the dude got struck with a major bug and pretty much camped out in the restroom stall for the day since the concrete walls were cold and soothing (sad). he took this photo of his view:
this is how you make curry paste & powder and holy shit it’s a lot of work. the closest thing i’ve had to an arm workout in three weeks. so get this, thanks to mexican food, us westerners have thai food spices all mixed up. for example, in thai dishes the GREEN curry is hotter than the red curry because they use fresh chilies for the green and dried chilies for the red. we immediately think of mexican dishes where green is more mild and red is spicy. don’t get fooled next time you order thai food.
throughout the day, we each made 6 different items and got to taste a ton. everyone in the group was super sweet about danny’s situation. everyone was concerned and offering all kinds of remedies and advice. in fact, at different points in the day, people would lightly tap on the bathroom wall to see if danny was still alive and to see if he needed anything. at the poor guy’s expense, the group did have a few good laughs… due to the open-aired situation and acoustics in the room, there were a couple moments of absolutely comedic timing with the rest of us trying new flavors with the sweet sounds of vomitting in the background.
here’s mr. ting napping. we’re not quite sure what it was. we were convinced it was the first “travel bug” – perhaps something he ate, or something he touched… who really knows. however, about 24-hours later, the bug bit me, so we’re thinking it may have been a 24-hour flu or something. after you hear my story, you can decide who’s situation was worse ;)
side note: when we got back to our hotel and he was able to hold something down, i went in search of coconut water. i popped in the local market and there with the juices in the fridge was a whole coconut for 50-cents that the front desk clerk chopped open for me enough to stick a straw into it. can’t get more pure than that!
luckily, the farm was super peaceful and the weather was cool with a slight breeze. plenty of places for him to hide & rest.
cheers from our crew of new chefs!
if you find yourself in chiang mai, we highly recommend asia scenic farm cooking class
we were sent home with a cookbook featuring each of the dishes, so i think we’ll host a big thai style meal for all our friends & family when we return to show off our (eh, my) new cooking skills!