Day 11: A Lot of Thai cooking class

Today was our cooking class, which was given at A Lot of Thai. There are a lot of cooking classes in Chiang Mai, and I picked this one for two reasons. First, it had good reviews on and, second, it was taught in the woman's home, and therefore was restricted to a maximum of eight people. I liked the idea of a more intimate class.

I had forgotten to charge the camera batteries the night before, so I was low on battery. Consequently, I didn't take as many pictures this day as normal. Apologies for that, but there are plenty to give you the idea.

It turns out that A Lot of Thai was an excellent choice. The instructor, Yui, and her husband, Kwan, picked us up at the hotel in their blue VW microbus, which, to say the least, is a little unusual for Thailand.
We took the short ride to their home, and the class starts immediately. Each person has their own cooking station, utensils, ingredients, etc. This is very important if you are ever picking a cooking class.
First, we all gather aroud Yui's station, and she shows us the ingredients, and tells us about them. Then she shows us how to cook what we are cooking.
After this, everyone goes back to their station and cooks thier own batch.
And then you all gather around the table and eat what you just cooked.
Our group was pretty good, for the most part. We had a couple of guys from Canada, a married couple from Quebec, a girl from Hong Kong, and an Israeli woman. Everyone got along fine.

The first dish we made was a simple stir fry with chicken and cashews. It was quite good. That's mine shown above with the wok.

We then learned to make green curry with chicken, which is one of my favorite dishes, and one which I had frequently while we were there. It again came out really well, and I finally got something spicy.

I have not mentioned this before, but I should say that, contrary to the reputation, the food I got in Thailand was not really spicy. I understood from guide books and websites that the people making the food automatically tone it down for farangs, and this was my experience. I finally took to explicitly telling the server I wanted it spicy, which helped some. I did get some things that were pretty spicy, but I never got anything that I considered really hot. However, I do have a high tolerance for spicy food, and I love it, so someone with different tastes might consider it spicy. I never had anything where I thought "Holy crap, this is too spicy." Now, when I am a Thai places here, I order my food hot, but not Thai hot. Maybe one step below that, a 9 out of 10, so YMMV, of course.

Anyway, my green curry was pretty spicy. The curry paste was homemade by Yui and it was excellent.

The next dish was the famous pad thai. It was really cool to learn to make this famous dish. We are hoping to get to the big Chinese market this weekend to pick up some ingredients that we can't get at the regular grocery store. We'll need some good fish sauce, which is in almost all Thai food, some tamarind past, some palm sugar, kafir lime leaves, some chio bo, which is preserved turnip, and a couple of other minor things. I figure there are Thai restaurants here, so they must be getting these ingredients somewhere.

After the third dish, we took a tour of a local market near the house. This was a very fun tour. It was a real, local market, and we were the only non-Thai people I saw there. The prices and selection reflected this, too. There was everything from flip-flops to toothpaste to cakes of coagulated chicken blood to flattened dried squid to cutting boards to vegetables to incense to, well, pretty much anything. And, of course, this being Thailand, there were a ton of food vendors.

Yui took us around to several of the vendors and showed us ingredients, explaining their use. We saw many fun and exotic things. Afterwards, we were given a little while to wander the market. I got a new wok spatula, which cost me 60 baht, or $2. I probably overpaid, but that's OK, I guess.

Here are some of the pictures I took there. Some of them are a little grainy since I had the flash turned off, but they get the point across, I think.

Overall picture of the market, food vendor area.

There are many varieties of rice in Thailand. These are between 16 and 21 baht a kilogram, or between 22 and 29 cents a pound. Pretty good deal.
Nice fresh eggs.
Pre made curry powder. I would have so bought some of this if I could have figured a way to get it back in the country. It is 5 baht, or 15 cents, for 100 grams.

Mmmmm...chilies.Dried pressed squid. There was a lot of dried seafood.
The veggies were so fresh looking. Better than anything I have ever seen here, at least outside of the farmer's market.

Here's me drinking a really good Thai coffee. It is very sweet, and quite delicious. Note the bag. When you get a drink in Thailand that is not prepackaged, particularly when you are in an area frequented by locals, it comes in a little bag like this. The vendor puts some ice in there, your drink, inserts a straw, and ties a very handy rubber band to close it and to use as a handle. It's a cool system.

After the market tour, we learned to make egg rolls, the famous spicy tom yum goong soup, and sticky rice with mango. All of mine turned out really well, but I must say the sticky rice with mango was a learning experience. I wish I had known how good this is, so I could have been eating it the whole time. Must find some sticky rice and make it here.

The class lasted from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, and cost us about $30 each. Pretty much the bargain of the trip, in my opinion.

Here is the group we took the class with.

We didn't do a lot else after that. After eating all day we really didn't want a huge dinner. We packed up for the flight back to BKK the next day. Since our departing flight on Thursday was at 6:40 am, we had long ago decided to fly back to BKK on Wednesday, and stay overnight at the airport hotel.


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