It’s the best way to learn about food while traveling

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I remember taking my first cooking class abroad in Hoi An, Vietnam, when I didn’t cook much. I learned that if you roll your rice paper rolls correctly, you will apparently make “a good wife”.

HOW TO MAKE RICE PAPER ROLL

There were many things that I learned and loved in the course, which sparked the mission to do a cooking class on every overseas trip I had planned. The classes are truly experiences in themselves, but they also inspire me to take recipes home and cook them for my family and friends.

If you’ve never signed up for a cooking class abroad, that’s why I recommend it.

Find out more about the origins of a dish

We often cook without knowing the ins and outs of a dish. How was he born? Was it created in times of war or reserved for the rich? Does the dish symbolize something?

The internet has plenty of answers, but for lesser-known dishes, it’s best to learn directly from a local source. locals know stories that are not necessarily documented online (or well documented). Cooking classes allow travelers to experience the hyperlocal and learn things they might not be able to do elsewhere.

It’s a privilege to talk with the locals. If possible, ask the cooking teacher questions, even general questions such as the history of the area and travel recommendations.

DISCOVER THE HISTORY OF A CULTURE THROUGH FOOD

Understand the different ingredients and techniques

Doing a cooking class is as convenient as it gets. You have the opportunity to learn about seasonal foods, ingredient preparation and cooking techniques that can be rare in Australia.

Jonathan Chiri is a restaurateur, private chef and tour guide based in Avignon, in the south of France. He leads cooking classes in the town’s historic hall, Les Halles. His lessons include a visit to the market. Having access to fresh, local ingredients is a big plus.

“In the same way that wine always tastes better when you have a personal story or memory to tie it to, learning about different techniques, ingredients, local cooking customs and recipes while on vacation gives a much more personal perspective and these are more easily shared once at home,” says Chiri.

Chiri loves how people enjoy learning lesser-known tricks outside of a commercial kitchen, including techniques that maximize flavor without adding ingredients.

“People walk away with recipes that are simple, simple and extremely tasty,” he says.

“Having the wonderful ingredients right next to us during the class also allows me to add to our daily preparations and/or make changes on the fly as I see fit. I also give an enormous amount of information on the manufacture of certain local products: cheeses, olives, olive oil, etc.”

“People walk away with recipes that are simple, simple and extremely tasty.”

Lanka Saman Vijitha Wimalasooriya has been teaching cooking in Ella, Sri Lanka for nine years. The location itself makes for a memorable experience; an outdoor kitchen in the green hills of Ella.

“We teach people how to make different types of Sri Lankan curries and coconut roti,” says Wimalasooriya.

During the class I attended, we cooked four clay pot curries: chicken, beetroot, green bean and pumpkin. One of the highlights of the class is learning how to make coconut milk from scratch with a traditional grater. This is used for curries and coconut roti.

“You can inquire about clay pots, special stoves [we use]and we give information about Sri Lankan curry leaves and spices.”

Contribute to the local economy

If you can, book a cooking class with the school or the person running it. This means that the money will go directly to this local business, without any commission being taken from third parties. This allows them to protect their livelihoods, especially in areas where jobs are harder to secure. It also helps to preserve and share culture in the most delicious way possible.

“If the lessons are well taught, I expect people to be even more interested in discovering the region and learning about its culinary traditions.”

It also helps to preserve and share culture in the most delicious way possible.

It’s a great way to meet other travelers

It can be difficult (and sometimes awkward) trying to make friends abroad. A shared meal can really break the ice.

The joy of sharing a meal with strangers leads to great conversations, cultural exchange, and the inevitable conversations about different people’s travel experiences. It can also lead you to your next travel destination and a friendly visitor to guide you.

Do you like history? Follow the author here: Instagram @caterinahryso.

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