Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thai Cooking Class: Making A Spectacle of Myself

Many of my memories of Thailand are recorded in sensations: the way the flavour of my first-ever mango seemed to explode on my tongue; the thousand folds in an elephant's leathery skin beneath my fingers; the scent of hookah smoke as I watched it curl lazily up into an endless spread of stars over my little straw beach mat.

But these are the pleasant sensations.  I can think of at least one sensation I experienced in Thailand that was --- somewhat less pleasant.

My new pal Rose, whom I'd met while volunteering, suggested that we spend a day taking a Thai cooking course.  Seeing this as a means of inexpensively supporting my newly-accelerated Thai noodle addiction once I got back home, I agreed.

New friends - pleasant sensation!
We met our small class at the beautiful old teak wood building that housed the cooking school.  After a short orientation we were off to the local market to learn how to select ingredients.

That market was a blur of pleasant sensations: fresh fruits and vegetables piled in bright towers; the mingled scent of a hundred spices perfuming the air; fresh fish whizzing from vendor to vendor, slapping wetly as they connected with their targets.

We learned the fine art of choosing the best ingredients, sniffing and squeezing and bartering, and then toted our selections back to the school.

The teacher's daughter Bam-Bam made some excellent recommendations.

The first course (papaya salad) was prepared without incident.  The teacher complimented me on my dicing technique, and I moved into the next course -- green curry -- puffed up with gastronomic pride.  Forgetting, of course, that pride always comes before a fall.

 I was excited about the curry course because I was going to get to use a mortar and pestle for the first time.  The set we were using was massive and made of heavy stone, so the group took turns pounding the chili peppers. 

My first turn went by without incident.  I happily pounded away with the heavy pestle, the spicy chilies tickling my nose, then passed the mortar on when my arm got tired.  When my second turn came I took hold of the pestle, laughing, overconfident, and slammed it back down into the mortar.

I could never in a million years have managed it had I been trying, but I somehow hit the half-mashed chili at just the right angle to send a huge chunk of the fiery hot juice straight into my open left eye.

I can't remember exactly what thoughts were running through my head at the time, but I imagine they went something like "AAAAIIIIEEEEEEAIAIAIAIEEEE!" punctuated by some inventive cursing.  The mortar and pestle hit the ground with a mighty clunk.  My body flailed around wildly, unequipped to cope with that kind of pain.  A veritable waterfall of tears spouted from my eye in a vain attempt to flush the terrible stuff out. 

Fortunately for my ocular health (and my self-esteem), this was a common enough injury at the cooking school.  The teacher herded me over to the outdoor sink, turned on the tap and shoved my head under it.  As the tepid water slowly soothed my burning eyeball (but not my embarrassment), the rest of the group pounded up another pepper and finished the curry in record time.

Apparently you don't need to ingest chilies via the proper orifice for them to make you sweat.  Also, check out that bloodshot eye!  SEXY!

The rest of the courses were prepared without incident, thanks largely to the group's wise decision to keep me far away from any dangerous produce.  Once the burning had been reduced to a tolerable level I contrived to enjoy myself immensely.  I even managed to get in a few eye puns, each one cornea than the last (WAH-wah!).

I think it's safe to say that I learned a lot more in that cooking class than the average student.  I guess that makes me an excellent pupil?  Bahaha!  What, you don't like puns?  Don't lash out!  Wooo, eye'm on a roll!  Badoom-CHING!

1 comment:

  1. I have visited Thailand few times and the thing I am not able to forget is Thai Food. Because, I don't know how but, I don't love any other food as much as Thai. Even I am planning to learn Thai cooking from some Cookery Lessons In London.


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