After almost one year on the road, a spatula has become about as foreign to me as the Chinese language. But recently on a trip around Thailand my husband and I signed up for a cooking class in Bangkok to honor our second wedding anniversary. It seemed fitting because it was here on our honeymoon that we first fell in love with the Land of Smiles and its spicy cuisine. Pad thai, curries, sticky rice...we wanted to learn how to make them all.
After searching online we found one that had the best reviews and, oddly enough, the best prices. May Kaidee's Vegetarian Cooking School first started as a restaurant and now has three locations across Thailand, two of which offer cooking classes. When we showed up for our afternoon class we were told that May was actually in New York looking into opening her first location in the States sometime next year.
May (real name: Sommay Jaijong) had wanted to open a restaurant from the age of 12. Three years later she got a job in her aunt's vegetarian restaurant washing dishes. But because she thought the food was flavorless, she began to experiment with the recipes. It wasn't long before friends and family were requesting May's food instead of her aunts. She is now not only a recognizable name in Thailand, but having been featured in travel guides like Lonely Planet and Frommers, May has also garnered clients from around the world.
Our cooking class included a guy from Switzerland, while the session before featured a large group from Israel. Our instructor was Onanong Natanee, who told us to call her On. Because we signed up for only a half lesson (which meant no trip to the market and shop where spring rolls were made), we were allowed to each pick three recipes. Over the next three hours we would learn to make the nine recipes, which consisted of curries, soups, salads, and spring rolls.
Each recipe finished off with a sit-down to taste everyone's concoctions, noting how different the food tasted despite all of us working from the same recipe. Around the sixth dish, On could tell we were starting to enter a food coma and got us all up to learn the "Sap Cooking Song." Sap translates as "yummy," and after jumping around singing the lyrics a couple of times we were all ready to get back to the yummy food. Our final dish was the classic dessert mango with sticky rice. As we sat waiting for On to bring us our Thai tea, and the smell of the sticky rice wafted under our noses, we couldn't help but hum along to the tune we had just learned: "Sap, sap, sap, sap, sap."
Lisa Costantini is a writer/editor currently traveling the world with her husband working on a project about sport and culture. More information can be found on their website at www.whysportmatters.com. Lisa will be blogging from the road for us as she and her husband travel through Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe over the next several months.
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