One of the best ways to experience a culture is eating your way through it. Go a step further than just trying the food. How about learning how to cook it instead by taking a cooking class in the country you are visiting?
Why Take A Cooking Class?
The sound of sizzling vegetables at the bottom of a wok, fragrant spices stinging your nostrils and a cloud of flavor-filled steam rises as the pot lid is lifted. Food, oh delicious food, how we love you.
Shall we go on or is the dish served yet?!
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Cooking Class Checklist
For us, one of our go-to recommendations for any traveler is to take a cooking class. If can swing it, try making a cooking class one of the first things you you do when arriving to a new place.
Why? So glad you asked, we’ll tell you in 3, 2, 1 …
1. Cooking Classes Are A Great Way To Learn
….about the destination. Typically, a cooking class teaches you some of the local language, gives you an overall understanding of the food and a bit of brief history of the culture.
All these little touch points are great ways to kickstart your understanding of place you are about ready to explore. Eating a learning…a win, win if you ask us.
2. You’ll Meet New People
If you’re traveling solo, a great way to meet people is staying in places and doing activities that bring a sense of community and allow you to be social. Cooking classes are one of the activities.
Ask your hostel roommates if they’d like to join you or meet new people in the class and ask to meet up later that night. Either way, you get to spend a few hours with a group of new people for you to get to know.
3. Cooking Classes Are Great For Couples
Whether your traveling or back home, cooking classes are a perfect date night for couples! It’s a fun interactive experience where you’ll both work together to create a tasty dish you get to share.
4. You Get To Eat Amazing New Food
Traveling is all about new experiences, right? What better way to try new things than the cuisine of the place you’re in? From new spices to new ways to cook, the food you get to make will inevitably leave you wanting more.
Oh, and if you listen to our tip on booking a cooking class right when you arrive, you get to figure out what your favorite dishes our and eat them for the rest of the trip 🙂
5. You Don’t Have To Worry About The Mess
Now, it’s always nice to offer to help pick up, but for the most part, your cooking class has you covered. You essentially get to make a mess and don’t have to worry about the flour your spilt or the vegetable scraps on the table.
6. Adds A Sense of Normalcy
If you’ve been traveling for sometime, more than likely, you’ve been eating our for every meal. One of the comforts of home we miss is cooking. Taking a cooking class brings that sense of normalcy back that at least for us, were missing.
Not to mention, cooking is just fun!
Booking A Cooking Class
From private tours in Europe to group classes in Asia, book your cooking class today to add that little extra special something to your trip.
Things To Ask Before Booking A Cooking Class
Cooking classes come in all shapes in sizes, so when you search “cooking class (insert city)” you will find a handful, if not dozens of options!
We realize this can be pretty overwhelming so we have done some leg work for you. Below you will find some good questions to ask the school to help ensure you are getting a good value and experience.
1. How Many People Are In The Cooking Class?
The more people, the more crazy things can get. When booking a cooking class, we recommend no more than a six to one ratio. Six being customers, like you, and one being the instructor.
The lesser the ratio, the better. Why? Well, the smaller the cooking class size, the more you’ll learn.
The instructor is able to keep a closer eye on you to ensure you’re cooking the dish accurately. Plus, you’ll get to know your instructor and other members of your cooking class better. It’s a fine way to meet new people while traveling!
TIP: If your budget allows, consider paying a little more to have a private lessen. How many dishes you will be experiencing or preparing?
2. How Many Dishes Are You Cooking?
If you’ve never taken a cooking class before, you may not be aware that there is a good chance that you yourself will not be cooking every dish.
The rest of the group needs a dish or two to cook so it’s best to make sure the class offers a variety or dishes to cook through. You’ll want to make sure that between you and your group, you are preparing a solid amount of different dishes.
We recommend no less than five dishes just to make sure everyone is getting the most out of the experience.
3. Is A Market Tour Included?
Basically, do you go shopping for the ingredients as part of the cooking class?
Of the cooking classes we have done, a market tour has been apart of the class and in an effort to be as honest as possible, we believe a market tour is and absolute must!
Shopping for your ingredients at a local market gives allows you to have an inside look into the culture and pulse of the city you’re in.
It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about the flavor profiles of the dishes you’re cooking, speak (and haggle) with local vendors, and support the local farmers and the community. Plain and simple, learning about food and talking with the folks who grow it is a great way, if not the best way, to experience the local culture.
Oh, and did we say local a lot? …We meant to 🙂
4. Do You Get A Recipe Book?
Once your cooking class is over and you’re trip has come to an end, how do you go about making the dishes for friends and family back home? Ask your cooking class if they provide a cook book or a list of recipes that you get to keep after the class finishes.
What better way tell your friends and family about your trip than sharing stories over an authentic meal you cooked for them. It’s simply the best.
It’s a great way to remember the experiences you had by revisiting those senses that were peaked while making and eating the food.
5. What’s Included in The Cooking Class Price?
Make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for so you don’t get surprised along the way. Nothing can ruin a day when you feel like you’re getting scammed or forced to pay for something you didn’t anticipate.
Important things to get clarification on ahead of the class are…
- Is transportation to and from the class included?
- Are all ingredients included in the price?
- Are soft drinks or alcohol offered?
- Is an apron included?
We have found there are many ways to experience the world, but for us, food has proven to be the most delectable way. There are loads of tours and excursions you can go on when visiting a new destination, but cooking has proven to be the best way for us to get as close as we can to other cultures.
Hopefully this read has given you the motivation to get out there a try a class on your next trip. Give it a shot and let us know how it tasted!
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For more travel tips, guides and awesome travel shots, be sure to poke around our site, follow us on Instagram @wanderingstus, Pinterest and on Facebook. Oh and if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section. We’re happy to answer. Or, just leave us a positive note!
– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)