Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chiang Mai

Promptly upon arrival at SpicyThai Backpackers, I fell in with a crowd of English teachers, and we went out for my first meal in Thailand. Of course, being in Chiang Mai, one of the noted culinary centers in Thailand, we... went to a Mexican restaurant and had tacos. Being in the position of tagalong, I felt like I couldn't really object.
I made up for this faux pas the next day. Over breakfast in the hostel, I met a nice London girl named Jemma, and she invited me to go with her to the cooking course she signed up for. Ordinarily you need an advance reservation, but it turned out there was one extra spot. The class is set up so each participant has their own cooking station, so I easily could have been out of luck. Obviously the spirit of Thai cooking was offended at my meal last night and made this allowance for me.
The class was fantastic-- SO much fun and such great food. We started out with a tour of the local market where our teacher, Permpoon Nabnian, taught us about various ingredients and how to select good produce. We were introduced to banana flowers, acacia, lesser ginger, Chinese celery, coconut cream, and so forth, in addition to "horse piss" eggs. They're eggs that are pickled and dyed pink to warn you that the contents, indeed, smell like horse piss.
We were trucked out to Perm's house where he had an impressive setup. We had each chosen the dishes from the menu we wanted to cook (and eat). Jemma and I divvied up the list so we could try each other's. Between the two of us and Perm's demonstrations, we made hot and sour soup (tom yam), chicken in coconut soup, chicken with cashew nuts, sweet and sour chicken, green curry and panaeng curry, pad thai, papaya salad, spring rolls, and sticky rice with mango. Including the tour, the class lasted from about 10am to 3:30pm. Pictures to come.
On the way back to town, in an open truck full of westerners, we fell victim to Songkran. The day before, I had seen street vendors with giant blocks of ice, but it wasn't until the truck ride that I learned what they were for. Apparently the thing to do is put these blocks in your water/ammo supply. The water people dump on you by the BUCKETFULS is ICE water. And we were sitting ducks.
Later, I was seeking my revenge on the streets when somehow I ended up trapped at a concert. There was a band and dancers on a multi-story stage with water hoses and fountains, and the police had blocked off traffic so that for a full city block soaking wet people were shoulder to shoulder, dancing. Needless to say, I should seek revenge more often.
That night I met up with some people from the hostel, and we... went bowling. Hah. At one point the owner of the hostel challenged me that if I could beat him I could stay a night for free. How cool would that have been? But no, I have to suck at bowling.

1 comment:

  1. There is a lot of fire in the first picture! Are you sure you didn't take a pyrotechnics class?