Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Road Babe Dispatch From Thailand
The coolest option I found involved a trip to the market, a tour of an organic farm, and then finished up with cooking six different dishes under the supervision of a sassy Thai woman named Mam. I instinctively felt that this might turn out to be the best day of my life.
Before we started, we took part in a traditional Thai welcome, which is more or less the equivalent of a stiff shot. It consisted of a betel leaf stuffed with raw garlic, ginger, a wedge of lime, peanuts, red onion and a sliver of spicy pepper. This is a welcome that's not easily forgotten, but I was getting in good with Thai food and went back for seconds.
Then the cooking began. We prepared one dish at a time then ate, sharing samples with each other. We all used enormous hatchets and made menacing faces as we chopped and laughed. The food was divine, especially the deep-fried bananas.
Chiang Mai is a mecca for backpackers, with the funkiness of Bangkok but a fraction of the traffic and smut. There is so much to do there, whether temple hunting, elephant treks, cooking classes, orchid farms, or just a stroll through the colors and lights of the night market. I did it all and wanted more, but limited time required I move on to other parts of the Land of Smiles.
Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.