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Why You Should Cook While You’re Traveling

One of my favorite travel activities is to take a cooking lessons during the trip. Have you noticed the subtle differences between curries from different countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and India? Not to mention the variations in color and taste in the palette of red, yellow, white and green curries? How about the difference among rice dishes from Italy, Spain, China and Vietnam? You can learn by watching cooking shows on TV and reading cook books. But there is nothing like learning cooking from a local expert!

Here are my top five reasons why you should don an apron and roll up your sleeves on your next trip.

1. Learning from a local expert

Cooking classes often start with a morning shopping excursion to the market, where the stalls are stocked with a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood. The teacher shares their secrets, for example selecting the freshest fish by looking for clear eyes, and firm and shiny skin. The teacher also reminds you about local customs, like whether you can touch the produce or not.

2. Be inspired to cook

The class returns to the kitchen to prepare the ingredients, with techniques such as bashing lemongrass to release its tangy aroma. In Southeast Asia, you add Kaffir lime leaves for added spiced-citrus flavor. In India, spices are toasted to release its flavors and aromas.  Once all the cutting, chopping and marinating are done; the paella, pad thai, Hainanese Chinese rice and Kerala fish curry dishes are quickly conjured up.

3. A true taste of your destination

Most classes prepare a starter, entrée and a dessert, and sometime even more dishes. Everyone enjoys the cooking experience, camaraderie, exchanging jokes and travel experiences.  Finally savoring the fruits of your labor, the dining experience eating all the prepared dishes is a pleasant way to wrap up the cooking class. Don’t forget to ask your instructor about hidden gems in the city, and which local markets and restaurants to visit.

4. Learn history and culture

Food is a great way access a country’s culture and heritage. The typical ingredients used often give clues to the history of agriculture and trade in the region. For example, the Chinese immigrants to northern Thailand in the 18th century brought with them a penchant for soy sauce and ginger, and a fondness for fermented beans. When the Burmese ruled the area for 200 years, they introduced the now popular dish of khao gan jin (rice wrapped in banana leaves cooked in pork blood).

5. Lasting happy memory

In addition to the recipes at the cooking class, you’ll also bring home a lasting appreciation of the destination. Whenever you enjoy a meal at an ethnic restaurant at home, it will evoke fond memories of your vacation and the people you met.

(Courtesy of Spice Village – CGH Earth Resort, Thekkady, India)

Food is a universal language and a true force for creating authentic connections with the local culture and people you meet on your trip.  Give cooking classes a shot on your next trip!

Recommended Journeys

Signing up for a cooking class on your trip could be challenging, as many teachers do not offer any easy way to make reservations or accept payment. We make it easy to find your dream vacation.  We curate cooking classes into our selected tours and design our own specialty food tours. Save time by choosing one of our great tours to embark on a magical journey with your own private tour guide and driver.

Discover Cambodia
6 Days from $1,095 per person ✦
An off the beaten track journey to explore the temples of Angkor & the ancient Khmer culture
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Best of Thailand
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A chance to capture the adventure and essence of timeless Thailand that covers culture, heritage, cuisine and exciting island activities.
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Taste of India
12 Days $4,430 per person
A sizzling Culinary-Travel adventure to taste exotic cuisines that reflects their home climate, history, and religion.
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