21 April 2013

Chiang Mai Thai Cookery, Day 3 of 3: My Last Full Day in Thailand . . .

I would love to say that on my last day in Thailand, I jumped out of bed and exhausted myself with an active and full day of cooking!

However, only part of that is true. I did exhaust myself with an active and full day of cooking. But when my alarm went off in the morning, I couldn't move. I was unbelievably sore. Turns out my overnight trek was haunting me. And somehow--after at least 3 showers--I still felt like I had dirt all over me.

After lying in bed for several minutes wondering how I would ever get out of bed and get dressed to go, I swung my legs over the side of the bed and put mind over matter.

Chef Pon picked me up, right at 9am. And when we got to the cooking school office, I was the only one there. I meandered about for a bit before 3 others arrived and we were off to the cooking school.

Our first stop was the market. This time we were shopping for our ingredients. He gave each of us 3 slips of paper and told us which stands to go to and order. I was in charge of all of the peppers. It was a great day to be at the market, it was really buzzing! Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables out, and fun paper streamers to celebrate the upcoming water festival, or Songkran. (I bought two of the streamers. They now live in my bedroom.)

Look how gorgeous!

I loved the Jack Fruit, pictured above. It was chewy and sweet. And Chef Pon tried to get us to taste the pink duck eggs with the greenish black insides, but I didn't think I would like the texture. The jelly consistency sort of freaked me out. Jellied things sort of freak me out in general. But the eggs and their insides were beautiful, I thought. 

When we got back to the cooking school, we walked around in the garden. Using our knives, we cut our vegetables. It felt really great to be buying fresh produce from the market and cutting additional vegetables from the cooking school's garden. It made me miss having a yard. But more importantly, it made me excited about tackling balcony gardening . . . (Look for progress reports next August!)

Our class was so small that more times than not, I found myself sitting alone as the others cleaned their stations, went to the restroom, or got coffee. It was so drastically different from my previous two classes. But that did not slow down Chef Pon one minute. He was on: performing as usual . . . So much fun to watch!

Our menu for the day consisted of Yellow Curry With Chicken (Gaeng Garee Gai), Steamed Fish in Banana Leaves (Hor Neung Plaa), Chicken With Cashew Nuts (Gai Phad Med Mamuang), Fried Big Noodles With Sweet Soy Sauce (Phad Siewe), Spicy Prawn Salad North-Eastern Style (Plaah Goong), and Bananas in Coconut Milk (Kluay Buad Chee).

The Gai Phad Med Mamuang was my favorite! I loved that the vegetables were cut in big chunks and the flavor was completely altered and heightened by adding the cashews. Chicken and cashews for life!

The Phad Siewe, pictured below, was also quite good. It had the same noodles in it that we fried up on cooking day number 2.

My favorite dish to prepare was the Hor Neung Plaa. We were steaming fish in banana leaves, so we got to wrap it up like a little present. It was so much fun to put together! The flavor was good, different: saltier than I had expected.

Look at me folding up fish in banana leaves like a boss . . . 

When we were finished with our class, I was handed my certificate for finishing 3 classes with Chef Pon. How fun is this? I earned two certificates during my time in Chiang Mai. I'm very proud of the Elephant Conservation Center certificate that I received and now this one . . . Chef Bailoey at your service!

Since I had arrived in Chiang Mai 8 days earlier, I had been feeling like it was sort of an Austin-y/Nashville Asian city. There was just something about it that reminded me of my two favorite cities in the States. It was friendly, filled with coffee shops and bars, easy to navigate, there were people on bikes and scooters everywhere, and the style was relaxed. I felt very comfortable there. 

Then--as I was waiting to board my plane--I came across the above image in a magazine. Um, my description was spot on! How much more Austin-y and Nashville could it be??! Ha!

I can't wait to go back in December. I have a feeling Chiang Mai and I are going to become very good friends.

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