A Plate Full Of Charm

By Emily Huang Ramirez Mar 9, 2014
It’s no secret that Thailand’s cuisine is world famous. Word on the streets is that the Vietnam War propelled Thai cuisine onto the global scene in the ‘70’s, as international soldiers stationed in Thailand returned home with Siam culinary gold. Today, you’d be hard pressed to swing a dead cat and not hit a Thai food restaurant somewhere on planet Earth, and rightfully so. Thai food is all sorts of wonderful. But authenticating your culinary highlights in Thailand should go beyond stuffing your mouth-hole to the brim. The true experience is learning to cook like a Thai!

Fortunately for everyone – lackluster, inexperienced cooks included - learning how to prepare and cook classic Thai food is not rocket surgery. It’s surprisingly easy with the right recipe and tools, but more importantly, with the right teacher. My disarmingly charming and gregariously witty friend Max recently opened his own cooking school, appropriately named “Thai Charm Cooking School”.

He has the exact persona one would want for tackling page-long recipes with exotic ingredients. He’s a mushroom, if you will – a funguy. But his jokes have a lot less cheese than that one. The ubiquitous karst views are the perfect backdrop to Max’s outdoor school. The fun (and at the same time, difficult task) starts as each student gets to choose six dishes to make, from a list of 18. Many of these dishes are classic Thai fare such as Pad Thai, Green Curry, and Mangos with Sticky Rice. Grub for thought: If you are a mathamagician, bringing two accomplices means you get to sample all 18 dishes, so plan accordingly.

The feast includes a soup, a curry paste from scratch, a few main courses, and of course, dessert. Max comes from a tradition of cooking for the masses. He started as a child learning alongside his mother, and eventually went on to cook in Italian, Thai and Seafood restaurants in Chiang Mai. His real knack, however, has been in teaching. With over four years experience teaching in cooking schools in Chiang Mai, he opened the doors of the school here in Ao Nang, just two months ago. Much like Max, all of the ingredients used are fresh, vibrant, and fragrant. Feeling, smelling, tasting, A plate full of charm A Plate Full of Charm by Emily Huang-Ramirez and discovering each one individually is sure to be a highlight. Learning is not some boring “student-see-studentdo” gig; you’re treated to a bottomless pit of historical side notes, cultural tidbits and, as promised, a lot of belly laughing of the six-pack inducing variety. From the start, Max guarantees fun, and I am not one to be threatened with a good time so I heartily indulged. That’s not to say I didn’t have to work for it. Just because curry rhymes with hurry does not make it so, folks. But I have a deep appreciation for the labor that is curry paste, not to mention my “curry biceps,” as they shall henceforth be known.

As well, I’d say my Penang curry chicken was top notch, as was my Som Tam (papaya salad), and cashew chicken, thanks to Max. The best part of any cooking experience is the eating part, naturally. Max has the recipes and instruction down to an exact science, so no dish failed the taste test that day. And in true Thai style, there was no shortage of hospitality. At the end of the course we were given cookbooks with recipes of the dishes we made, as well as other dishes just as easily made with the skills learned in cooking class. With the exception of curry paste from scratch, many Thai dishes are considerably easy to make once a professional has taught you. Overall, the experience was a viscerally pleasing one. As I left the school with leftovers in a plastic bag Thai Tupperware, I couldn’t wait to get cooking again. Content Content

Copyright © 2014 www.krabi-magazine.com