After some time in class, and enjoying the sights of Bangkok, we had a joint cultural and academic activity, a cooking class! We went over the the Institute for Asian Languages and Cultures, and were let to the Thai traditional house. It was up on stilts, because it would prevent flooding when the rainy season came. We were down on the ground level, and there were several stations that were set up around a demonstration station. Our chef spoke limited English, so we had a translator help us out. We had a ton of ingredients on the table some were familiar, other not. I saw cilantro, spices, and coconut milk. I would have to wait till later to learn the names of the others. Up at the front, the chef demonstrated first how to make Floating Lotus, a traditional desert that was coconut milk with little rice dough balls. I am used to vanilla and sugar and wheat flour desserts, The chef explained how Thai cooking aims to balance flavors, so you are not overwhelmed by one flavor, like sweet… The desert would have salty, sweet, and creamy flavors. Making the rice balls out of flour reminded me of making pasta at home. But they used glutinous rice flour, from sticky rice, instead of semolina wheat flour. Rolling the balls into a pea size took some patience, and they assured us the smaller the ball, the softer it would get as it cooked in the coconut milk. Next was spring rolls, and they gave us filling made in advance. All we had to do was to roll them into the rice paper. Obviously, everything in the kitchen is easier said then done. After a little practice, Megan, my cooking partner, and I, successfully rolled a whole plate of rolls. Time in the frying pan would tell if they were done well. Next was Tom Yum Gung, my top Thai soup. The chef was very exacting about the whole process, and made sure we were doing things in the right order for the dish to taste perfect. We followed chefs directions, and added a lot of lime and cilantro at the end to make the flavor pop. I was so impatient, because all our dishes had to be eaten at the end. Thankfully, good technique involves taste tests as the dish progresses. Our final dish was panang curry. I had no idea there were multiple types of curry up to this point. I was excited to try any curry, really. For this recipe, we had to make our own curry paste! Meg an I used all our strength and mashed up many spices and peppers for the dish. We added a few things that were hot, but not too many. We mixed it all in, and added pork to complete the dish. Finally, we were ready to feast. Everything came out great, I was so proud. They even gave us recipe books, which I was excited to use as soon as I got home. The experience was fun, and the food tasted so much better for it.