We’ve discovered a great way to dive into the culture and food of an unknown country, and I think we’ll adopt it as many times as we can along our journey. Taking a cooking course is a fun opportunity to unpack the traditional dishes that can, at first glance on a menu, look strange and even unappetizing. We took our first class in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and our dishes ended up being some of the best food we ate all month. This week, we signed up for a course in Siem Reap, Cambodia, not having the faintest clue what dishes the country is known for and wanting to embrace the local herbs, spices and delicacies (Well, some of them. You’ll never get me to eat fried insects).
I’ve also realized that introducing Luke to these foreign foods by chopping, pounding and stirring them himself opens up his somewhat picky palette to trying, and actually liking, new cuisine.
On the local market visit with our cooking instructor (so far this is the first part of each class, and another great opportunity to engage with the local people and culture), we see familiar and unfamiliar fruits, veg and spices.
Back in the classroom with our own chopping station and wok, we learned how to pound out a curry paste and balance flavors with cane sugar and fish sauce.
Of course, the best part of the meal is tasting our efforts. While I would have never ordered Lok Lak or Fish Amok straight off a menu, now I can venture out and boldly enjoy the chicken with peppery sauce or the mild Cambodian curry with confidence.
I would highly recommend adding a cooking course to your travel itinerary, whether you are leaving the country or just your zip code. It’s a fun way to introduce your taste buds to something local and new. Here’s an easy Cambodian recipe you can try, courtesy of Le Tigre de Papier cooking school. Bon appetit!