No visit to Chiang Mai would be complete without at least one day of Thai cooking class. There are 12 formal schools throughout the city and dozens more casual opportunities to get yer lemongrass on. The day that our elephant trek is rained out, Bermom and I sign up for a six-hour, seven-dish day with the Master Chef school.
After an ingredient briefing at the fresh market, we are whisked into a nearby village where we each take our place behind a cooking station. For the rest of the day, we slice, dice, and listen to the canned-but-still-amusing cooking/comedy routine of our instructor who begins the day by holding up a spoonful of red chili paste and shouting, â€œNo chili â€” no Thai food!â€
There are other orders to follow, including â€œKeep stirring! Keep smiling!â€ which is easy to do as we turn out dish after dish: Green chicken curry, tom yum soup, red panang curry with tofu and pumpkin, pad thai, spring rolls, and for desert, sticky rice and mango. We eat the first few dishes immediately after cooking them, and the rest are brought together at a table and served with a sweaty-cold Chang Beer.