One of the popular activities in the northern Thai capital of Chiang Mai is to take cooking classes. Thailand cuisine is obviously famed around the world and it also happens to be fairly uncomplicated from a cooking point of view, so learning how to prepare popular Thai dishes is fairly easy and fun.
I went to Da’s Organic Farm Hut, a cooking school on a peaceful little plot of land about 15 km outside of the city. Da first took us to a nearby local market where he gave a backgrounder to some of the ingredients we were going to use. Other ingredients came straight from Da’s own garden, pretty much as fresh as they could be.
First we visited a local food market in Chiang Mai, where Da got us to try different fruits and explained the many types of rice sold there
During the day-long course I cooked a red thai curry, coconut soup with chicken, and a papaya salad. I’d say they were all pretty successful, though next time I’ll have to go easier on the chilies as I managed to spice up the salad to truly eye watering levels.
The cooking instructions were, to be honest, a little basic. I often felt like I was just chopping things up and thucking them into a wok on command. “Okay, now add the basil leaves…” “Okay, now add the rice…” While it wasn’t perhaps so advanced in terms of teaching cooking techniques, the authenticity of the experience did fortunately more than made up for this.
Half the fun was just hanging out at the farm, having drinks in between sessions and playing with Da’s two dogs. The farm hut surroundings were very rustic and peaceful and I couldn’t help but take a little nap in between courses. Da gave us a little tour of the land and after lunch he was busy catching fish in a nearby stream, demonstrating a few river fishing techniques.
Da managed to catch two river fishes…
If you’re in Chiang Mai I can highly recommend taking a cooking class. Generally it includes a visit to a local (non touristy) market, where you’ll be taught all about local spices, fruits and vegetables. This tour is worth the price alone, as you’re unlikely to find these markets yourself, and it’s awesome to be with someone who can tell you exactly what to taste and smell. I also did genuinely learn more about cooking Thai food and can’t wait to try out what I’ve learned in the kitchen back home!