There are varied and spicy spices, vegetables at will and simple and effective recipes, not to mention derisory prices for fresh produce on every street corner. It’s hard to ask for anything better, don’t you think?
In fact, what I am describing here is the cuisine of a few countries in Southeast Asia, but especially that of Thailand. This country, although a little too popular for my taste, is a paradise for travellers who like to taste new flavours and textures and stroll through colourful, noisy and innovative markets.
For five weeks, my lover and I visited the north, south and two of the most famous islands, looking for dishes that were not familiar to us to destabilize us a little, but especially to refine the culinary talents already appreciated by darling. To the merchants, we asked countless questions such as:
– “What is this fruit?
– – #*&(*#.. »*! »#&(*)#
– Oh, well… okay. It looks a little like a…”
Of course, it is not easy to understand yourself in a foreign language. In addition, the ingredients of these tasty dishes do not always translate or explain themselves very well, but we have tried to absorb as much information as we can about this cuisine to make us feel familiar and bring back special memories.
We have accumulated countless visits to local markets, my favourite attractions in any city, especially in Asia! It is even possible to sow the seeds of other tourists if you discover unknown small markets. It is so easy to get lost in the many alleys and let yourself be carried away by smells, sounds, people traffic. Sometimes a smile is enough to create complicity with the merchant, other times, linguistic gymnastics is fun. In any case, you will come back with an experience to tell.
We have also attended several cooking classes, which can be useful to perfect your understanding of typical ingredients, but also to tame local markets if you don’t dare, as most of the classes are combined with a visit of this kind. When you have someone to explain the habits and customs to you, it’s easier to go beyond your fears. I took three courses, all excellent:
Blue Elephant – Bangkok
This establishment in the renowned restaurant of the same name is more upscale than average with larger group classes, perfect for a high-end experience combined with a visit to a little-known local market in Bangkok.
Apple & Noi Cooking – Kanchanaburi
In a guesthouse in Kanchanaburi, Noi offers cooking classes preceded by a personalized visit to the local market. The classes are in small groups, well organized and you choose the dishes you want to learn to make. Noi is a very friendly and colourful character; she will tease you about your poor cooking skills, but you will learn a lot in a short time. If you can, come back to the restaurant for dinner, the food is delicious.
Baipai Thai Cooking School – Bangkok
In the suburbs of Bangkok, the location of this school alone is sufficient to enjoy the experience (green garden, water basins, deckchairs and a building open to the outside world), but cooking at the counter around the chef is really dynamic and friendly. Groups are small and you are also taken to a market to learn more about Thai products.
Dare to taste
Taking risks, daring to taste, asking questions, this is the best way to discover any kind of gastronomy. This is all the more important when there is a language barrier, but also when you do not know the basics of this culinary culture. My best discoveries were the ones that made me most doubtful, because I didn’t know the content of the dishes, because of the safety of the place or the quality of the ingredients.
Now that we have discovered an oriental grocery store just around the corner (Marché Oriental, St-Denis corner Jean-Talon) that sells most of the products needed to redo the recipes learned in Asia.