After returning from the elephant park, I grabbed a handful of literature from my guest house’s travel desk and sat outside on the patio looking at it. There was another guy on the patio and we started talking. It seems he was an Australian who had spent most of his life in the USA. Now he was thinking of retiring to Chiang Mai. His sister lives there, so it wasn’t a random choice. He had lived at the Panda House about a month as he investigated the area.
I asked him what had done in Chiang Mai that he enjoyed the most. Without hesitation he said the cooking school. I looked at the brochures and there were 4 or 5 from cooking schools. He pointed out the one he attended, saying the guy who ran it had a great sense of humor in addition to being a good teacher and a good cook. He said the class he attended was fairly small with about 12 or 14 students.
So I signed Sea and I up for a half day course the next day. The cost was 700 baht each (about $20.00 USD), a little steep in my opinion, but
since it came so highly recommended that was fine.
The next afternoon we waited on the patio for our pickup from the school. A pickup truck drove up with a young couple in back. It was our ride.
We jumped aboard. I was surprised when we went directly to the market in the historic district of Chiang Mai. I assumed there would be other students, but it turned out we were the only ones that day. I got to know the other couple. They were Swiss so they spoke good English. They were very personable.
We got out at the market and our teacher (I am sorry I already forgot his name) took us around showing us what to look for when buying various spices, meats, mushrooms, vegetables, eggs, nuts, and fruits. And my friend from Panda House was correct, he had a great sense of humor.
After getting through with our shopping we climbed back on the truck and headed out. After about 45 minutes we came to a very nice gated residential area on the outskirts of the city. It was our teacher’s home. We got out and he led us to a large
open kitchen in the back. There were about 20 cooking stations, chairs, fans, cabinets with condiments, bathrooms, sinks, etc. His kids came out when we drove up and unloaded the truck. They took it inside and got everything ready for us.
We washed our hands, put on aprons, and sat down at our stations while our teacher explained some basics. He also gave us good information about condiments and spices, including possible substitutions if the Thai version was unavailable where we lived.
I won’t go into too much about how and what we made. We started with Tom Yum soup, my favorite Thai dish. Then we made a Pad Thai omelet, a green curry eggplant dish, cashew chicken, and deep fried bananas in potato pancakes. The whole time we cooked the chef kept making jokes while he showed us techniques and gave us the “whys” of what we were doing.
The final dish was the cashew chicken. It was one of those that flamed up. I took a pic of the Swiss couple as their woks exploded. Then I gave them my camera so they could take our pic.
We loaded everything up on wooden trays
and went to his front yard where tables were set up and a tureen of rice and utensils were waiting. We sat down and ate our dinners.
Then we climbed back on the truck for the ride back to town. The Swiss couple got off at the Night Market which looked interesting, but we had already looked at so much tourist crap over the past few days, we decided to go to Panda House. It was dark when we arrived.
We sat out on the patio a while. They had these neat bug zappers. They looked like badminton racquets, but were electrified. When you swung one and it hit a bug, there was a zap noise and a spark. I sat there swinging my racquet zapping bugs for about an hour. OK, I am borderline retarded and am easily entertained.
And why did I say this was The Best Thai Cooking School? Because that was its name.