Learning about a culture through its native cuisine is a great way to delve into its history, people and geography. Take a local cooking class and travel through time, discovering traditional preparation methods, local ingredients and unique flavours. Meet likeminded travellers in small, intimate classes, learn from passionate local chefs and take a tasty morsel of culinary knowledge home with you.
Here are five enticing cookery classes around the world that will have you serving ceviche, smoking eggplant and dishing up papaya salad like a local.
1. Peru – Sky Kitchen, Lima
Famed for its eclectic cuisine, a Peruvian cooking class is a wonderful way to scratch beyond the surface of pisco sours and quinoa. Sky Kitchen in Lima’s Miraflores district offers participants a three-hour cooking class on a rooftop terrace overlooking the sprawling city. Classes are run by Yurac, a professionally trained chef, and offer a variety of options including lunch, dinner, market tours, vegetarian cooking and Andean delicacies. Learn how to prepare lomo saltado, a marinated beef stir fry, aji de gallina, a traditional chicken stew and picarones, a fried dessert similar to a doughnut. skykitchen.pe
2. Turkey – Cooking Alaturka, Istanbul
Eveline Zoutendijk was born and raised in the Netherlands and fell in love with Istanbul on her travels. When she moved there permanently in 2001, she opened the city’s first Turkish cooking school, Cooking Alaturka. Working alongside chef Feyzi, Eveline introduces participants to the exotic flavours and spices of traditional Turkish cuisine, teaching you how to prepare a five-course meal. Dishes you discover might include eggplant stuffed with meat and bell peppers, spicy red lentil balls with garlic and parsley, Armenian broad bean puree with dill or spinach-filled flatbread. Lunch and dinner classes are offered Monday through Saturday. cookingalaturka.com
3. Italy – The International Kitchen, Umbria
The International Kitchen’s week-long Umbrian cooking course is thoughtfully balanced out with a hiking tour of the surrounding hills. Accommodated in Palazzo Seneca, a 16th century hotel in Norcia, participants are immersed in a region renowned for its sausages, lentils, cheese and truffles. Chef Flavio runs the two dedicated cooking classes and shares with his students the secrets of traditional Umbrian cooking. Breaking up the week are two daylong hikes led by Norcia local Francesco Capozucca along with tours of famed local wineries, nearby villages and a black truffle hunt. theinternationalkitchen.com
4. France – The Cook’s Atelier, Burgundy
A region with a passion for food and wine is a dream match for a cooking school and The Cook’s Atelier is the perfect combination. Tucked away in the historic centre of Beaune, the atelier is run by a mother/daughter duo who champion participation, celebration and education. Exploring regional culinary traditions while supporting small family farms and local artisans, the school offers a wonderful insight into all aspects of a local meal. Market tours and cooking classes are run on Wednesdays and Saturdays and offer participants the chance to select seasonal ingredients from a local market, prepare several dishes and enjoy a five-course lunch. Discover the way the French shop and cook, and learn how to prepare meals that may include spring asparagus salad with poached egg, duck breast with fava beans and strawberry tartlette. thecooksatelier.com
5. Vietnam – Green Bamboo, Hoi An
The historic coastal town of Hoi An on Vietnam’s south central coast is a beautiful city to explore on foot. Free from the pollution and crowds of larger cities, its streets are lined with grand architecture reflecting the foreign influences of its rich port history. A cooking class with Van of Green Bamboo Cooking School and Café provides a wonderful insight into the traditional local cuisine and is run in a relaxed setting. With hotel pickup around 8am, participants tour local markets to pick up fresh ingredients for their dishes, then head back to Van’s house for a hands-on cooking session. Choose from a vast array of food options including coconut milk curries, banana blossom salad and fresh spring rolls, and finish off the experience by enjoying a traditional Vietnamese meal made entirely by you. greenbamboo-hoian.com