12/24/09: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Did you know that it’s not mango season in Thailand? It’s something that didn’t occur to me until we were at cooking school today, reading through the little cookbook they gave us. On the mango sticky rice page, it says, “This is one of the most popular Thai desserts and many foreigners who come to Thailand regularly make sure that they come in the mango season so that they can have this dessert every day!”
This one sentence illuminated several important things for me: firstly, that I am NOT alone in this intense mango sticky rice love and therefore slightly less crazy than Kevin thinks I am; secondly, that it must not be mango season, because I have yet to see any mango sticky rice carts; and thirdly, that my image of Thailand as a magical land with mounds and mounds of mango sticky rice everywhere is still intact. When mangoes are in season, of course.
Anyway, back to the cooking class. Kevin’s awesome groomswoman (and good friend from high school) Rachel got us a cooking class from Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School as a wedding present. Hi Rachel! We love you!
Our morning activity was carving things out of tomatoes and the largest carrots I have ever seen in my life. First we made tomato-peel roses.
Then we made lotus flowers out of tomatoes (Kevin says mine looked like Audrey from “Little Shop of Horrors.”) and carved leaves from carrot slices. Another bonus from today: I have finally found something that I am better than Kevin at – carving flowers out of fruits and vegetables! It’s not much, but I have to take what I can get.
Then we started our cooking. (And eating.) In less than five hours, we cooked (and ate):
[Full disclosure: we didn’t actually get to cook the mango sticky rice, which I was kind of bummed about, but we did get the demonstration. When we get back home, the first thing I am going to buy is a steamer.]
The actual cooking part was like cooking boot camp – the instructors walked around our stations telling us what to do, barking out orders like, “Add the eggplant now!” and “Sauce, sauce! Sauce now!” A few times I was calmly stirring things around in my wok when an instructor would come by and shout, “Done! Done!” which was really dangerous because I then frantically tried to simultaneously shovel everything from my wok onto a plate and turn off my gas burner at the same time. I know it would make more sense to turn the gas off first, but it’s really difficult to think clearly when you have a small Thai woman shouting “Done! Done!” at you.
The food ended up being really good – we ate every single thing that we cooked, which would have been enough food to feed four normal people for an entire day or two semi-hungry people who never know when to stop eating. So basically it was perfect for us. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve already wrestled a promise from Kevin that we’ll do a cooking class in Siem Reap next week and in Beijing next month.
Thanks again for the awesome wedding present Rachel! Now if someone will only get us a steamer and a couple of bamboo baskets…
Thought of the Day: I’ve never had brain freeze. It must be a myth.
Picture of the Day: Wat Arun in Bangkok has some of the steepest stairs I’ve ever seen. (They’re not crooked, the photographer is.)