Already an avid consumer of Thai food, I took the chance to educate myself in Chiang Mai in the art of Thai cooking.
The day course, run by Asia Scenic Cookery School (www.asiascenic.com), was fantastic, first taking us to a local market to learn to shop for the core ingredients of Thai food, then bringing us out of the city to a farm, where we explored the vast kitchen garden. We were given a thorough grounding in the properties of Thai herbs, the varieties of rice, the sourcing of coconut cream and the spectrum of chillis, as well as guidance for substituting local ingredients back home in the West- geeky technicalities that were pretty fascinating…
We were each given the choice of a selection of key dishes to learn, and were guided through their preparation one after the other by our comical course leader, Lek, who definitely knew her food. After preparation, Thai dishes are remarkably quick to put together, and we breezed through the preparation of 6 different snacks and meals in the course of the day- eating them as we went, we finished the class fed for a week.
As well as preparing exotic leaf-based welcome snacks, I learned how to knock up spring rolls, classic Pad Thai, red curry paste, Tom Yum soup, and sticky rice, and went home armed with a full cookbook- dinner parties are promised on return, folks.