It took me years to figure out this one out. But now I’m hooked.
While traveling, I like to take cooking classes.
Food. Culture. Local interaction. Cooking classes are the perfect souvenir.
I did one last year at Le Tigre de Papier Cooking School in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
It was my last day there, and I was catching a flight out that night. I had hours to kill and wanted to spend it engaging more than just browsing shops or getting a foot massage. (I often feel out of sorts on travel days, not knowing how to spend the time)
This cooking class was a steal. It cost the equivalent of about $12 US for 3 hours of instruction and the meal. The best part of it was that we each chose 2 dishes we wanted to make.
I had eaten at the restaurant a few nights before, so I chose two dishes that I LOVED and could imagine preparing for myself at home. Papaya salad and Khmer canneloni (The last one doesn’t sound authentic, does it? Bear with me. I will explain)
The class started with a walk-through of a local market. You gotta love those “fresh” sights and smells…
Then we retreated to the cooking school located on the top level of the restaurant, overlooking the busy streets. There we chopped, shredded, minced, pounded, ground, sliced, fried, and doused.
As mentioned, I fell in love with the Khmer canneloni. It was a casserole of green curry made with rice paper noodles. Heavenly, but I had to prepare the homemade curry myself by grinding the chilis and spices together forever.
One of the benefits of taking cooking classes abroad is that you learn about the different vegetables and spices used in the dishes. Most can be bought in your own country at an ethnic grocery store. It’s also great to watch locals prepare dishes with their “special touch.” Knowing how ridiculously easy some dishes are, I will never order them in a restaurant again.
The classes are offered in both French and English, and it’s fun to chat with other participants. I met 6 year old Tollie from England, who actually cooked!
At the end of the class, you share your creations. There’s no photo of the canneloni (ate it too fast), but here’s some of our feast.
Can’t make it to Siem Reap for the cooking class? I just discovered Le Tigre De Papier’s online cooking tutorials. In the mood for a little Cambodian tonight?
Have you ever taken cooking classes abroad? How was your experience?