Remember how I told you I love food? And remember how I also told you that one of the first reasons I ever wanted to go to Thailand was because of the food? So when the opportunity to learn to cook these amazing dishes myself came up, do you think I said no? Heck no!

Admittedly, I wasn’t initially sold on Chiang Mai. It was somewhere Adrienne really wanted to go, and I’m nothing if not a good compromiser (I swear! I wouldn’t lie! Most of the time). But after learning about the elephants and cooking schools, I was sold. After researching several schools in the area, we decided on the Thai Cookery School. They have 5 different courses offered¬†on different days; introduction to Thai ingredients, making Thai curry pastes, touring the local market, vegetable carving, and our choice – shopping in the market. As luck would have it, shopping in the market is the day after we arrive.

For the cost of 1450 Bhat (about $44), we will spend the morning shopping in the market, followed by several hours learning to cook. Included in the cost is pick up at our hotel. After rounding up all the participants, we’re off to the market!

One of our first stops is to get noodles, a very important part of Thai food. This vendor holds up the wide noodles, then demonstrates how he cuts them to the size needed, depending on the dishes made.

IMG_3416

Our guide then takes us to the veggies section, explaining what everything is and purchasing what we need for today’s meals.

IMG_3419

IMG_3423

IMG_3424

IMG_3427

If you are squeamish, I recommend scrolling quickly past the next few photos. We don’t purchase any meat here, but I find it fascinating to walk through.

IMG_3438

IMG_3443

IMG_3444

Can you guess what these are?

IMG_3445

Yep, they’re frogs. As a meat-eater, I understand where my food comes from, and I’m not very squeamish about these things. But I think the idea of animals just sitting in the market, living on top of each other waiting to be butchered is what makes me sad. I know it keeps them fresher, but it just seems like a poor end of life.

IMG_3446

IMG_3447

Back to the exotic fruits!

IMG_3457

These are mangosteens. Adrienne buys some to try. You eat the white part in the middle and it’s quite tasty.

IMG_3456

IMG_3461

This is our haul for today. We’ll use all of this food when we get back to the school in the dishes we’ll be preparing today.

IMG_3453

Back in the van, we’re driven out to the cooking school. It’s a quiet location surrounded by trees.¬†Despite the heat and humidity, I love that we’re cooking outside.

IMG_3463

10152197543253718-Edit

This is my station.

IMG_3464

But before we get to the cooking, we watch a demonstration. Our chef walks us through the process for each dish we’re making, telling us how long to cook each ingredient and what we’re looking for to tell it’s done. There’s a mirror above him so we can see what’s happening on the stove.

20140220_115438

20140220_115600

Back at our stations, some of the ingredients have been provided, and some we have to measure out for ourselves.

20140220_120108

I don’t take many pictures of the process as I’m too busy cooking up a feast. But it’s so much fun. We chat with each other while chopping our vegetables and stirring our woks. And all the food turns out amazing. I love to cook, but I never knew I could cook this well! It looks like real Thai food!

20140220_130115-Edit-2

IMG_3465

IMG_3468

IMG_3470

IMG_3475

We cook about 4 dishes, then sit down to eat lunch before cooking a couple more. I am so stuffed at the end of it, but I don’t regret a single bite. If you go to Thailand and enjoy cooking even a smidgen, I recommend taking a class. Interestingly, despite the Thai Cookery School being the oldest cooking school in Chiang Mai, the website no longer seems to be working and I can’t find much reference to them on the internet. However, I’m sure any of the other numerous schools in the area are just as good. I just can’t speak to them directly!

5 Tips for Climbing Mt Rainier
Amphawa Floating Market