What is something everyone across the world does almost every day? If you guessed “going to the bathroom”, you are not wrong but that isn’t what we are talking about…they EAT!
The sound of sizzling vegetables at the bottom of a wok, the fragrant chili spice stinging your nostrils, a cloud of flavor-filled steam arising when the pot lid is lifted…shall we go on or is the dish served yet?! Your mouth is watering as you patiently await to devour your meal. Food, oh delicious food, how we love you.
One of the best ways to experience a culture is to eat your way through it. Another step further than trying the food, is learning how to cook the food via a cooking class in the country you are visiting.
As we travel, a checklist item for us is to sign up for a cooking class. You get to meet local pros who not only understand their food really well but know how to translate it to you. The combination of understanding the flavors and making sense of it all makes your visit a much more enjoyable and memorable food experience.
We recommend taking a cooking class as one of the first things you do when arriving to a new place. This will help you understand and enjoy your overall trip. Usually, a cooking class teaches you some of the local language, gives you an overall understanding of the food and some brief history of the culture. All these little touch points the class gives you will help you understand and enjoy your overall trip. Be the educated tourist!
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 is 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.
Things To Ask Before Booking Your Cooking Class.
- How many people are in your class?
- We recommend no more than a 6 to 1 ratio. 6 being customers, like you and 1 being the instructor. The lesser the ratio, the better. If your budget allows, consider paying a little more to have a more intimate experience. It will be more enjoyable, and you will learn so much more.
- How many dishes you will be experiencing or preparing?
- Find out exactly how much of the local fare will you be learning about. You may not actually be cooking every dish but you want to make sure that between you and your group, you are preparing a solid amount of different dishes. We recommend no less than 5 dishes, so you can get a well-rounded experience.
- Do you go shopping for the ingredients as part of the course?
- All of the classes we have taken include this experience which we believe is a must! The opportunity to go with a local to the local market, speak to other locals, in the local language, and buy local food is a great way if not the best way to experience the culture. Did we say local a lot?…We meant to.
- Do you get a recipe book or copy of the recipes to take home?
- Cooking back home. Is there a better way to tell your friends and family about a trip than cooking a dish for them? Also, it’s a great way for you to remember the experiences you had by revisiting those senses that were peaked while eating or making the food.
- What’s included in the 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 your getting scammed or forced to pay for something you didn’t anticipate.
We have found there are many ways to experience the world, but food for us has proven to be a delectable gem. Experiencing it is accomplished in so many ways, 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.
For more travel tips, guides and awesome travel shots, be sure to poke around our site, follow us on Instagram @wanderingstus 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)