Bangkok: Cooking With Poo

The next few days were a whirlwind. I booked and crammed every single Bangkok minute full of fun things to do and see while we were there. Thankfully Mr. B didn’t grumble to much and was a pretty willing participant accompanying me. Thank you for everything Mr. B.

Each morning we were up before the sun getting ourselves together and ready for the day. First on the list was the cooking class we booked. We easily found the mass transit system and purchased all day passes. If I recall correctly the cost was like $8 or $9 US. Here were just some views along the way.

We, like many, love to travel around the world and experience a different culture with its culinary delights and then be able to take that skill and recreate it to share with our families and friends later on. Thanks to Kelsey’s recommendation on the class, we cooked with Poo. No typo, we cooked with Poo and we really liked it too! LOL! Let me explain more about that.

Khun Saiyuud Diwong, known as Poo (it’s short for “Chompoo”, or rose apple). Poo is a resident of Klong Toey, one of the largest slum communities in the city of Bangkok. She has been running a cooking school for tourists as well as local residents for over 5 years. Poo continues to be gaining media coverage from around the world, most notably cooking with Jamie Oliver in his home (WHOA!), but that’s not the most important thing to her, she has changed the lives of her family and the lives of many neighbors in her community. Poo is able to provide employment and support her neighbors in starting their own viable home business. Please read more about Helping Hands, also mentioned in my prior post when I was in Cambodia.

The day begins with a tour of Klong Toei market. Not only do you get to learn about the ingredients you will be using later in your class, but you get a real in your face overview of Thai market culture, products and produce (smells, sights and all). We were surprised that even after all the markets we’ve been to around Asia, this one was rather different.

*The orange is just egg yolks

*These are eel

*These are REALLY big water bugs… that they eat….and no not just on some Bangkok version of Fear Factor

*Remember me trying this in Malaysia?

*The scent of these were beautiful! So much so, a mum had to purchase some for her young son because of the various pungent market smells

*The pink eggs are just pickled like our central Pennsylvania red beets and picked eggs

*I sort of kind of know how to tell the difference between the deep red or white inside dragon fruit from the outside… kind of

*Mini eggplant I thought were really awesome

Poo only takes on 10 people at a time with her cooking groups and I must agree, looking back no more than 10 is the perfect size when trying to get through the market and also cook together.

After the market we went to the Klong Toei neighborhood. This is where Poo’s kitchen is located. unfortunately Poo’s original kitchen burnt and was destroyed in a fire, but fortunately with all of the wonderful continued business she and her staff were quickly able to re-establish another site again.

We were dropped off and took a short guided walk through one of Bangkok’s poorer areas. This was an experience in itself because most coming to Bangkok on holiday will never experience or even see these areas. The children and locals are genuinely friendly wanting to say hello. I really felt welcomed and very safe the entire time.

The class is impressively organized and very thorough. We learned to prepare a 3-course meal in only two hours! Of course let’s not forget the best part…. eating your delicious creations. If you cannot finish the dish you prepared, no worries, as they will bag and let you to take home.

We were introduce you to basic Thai cooking techniques along with family stories to accompany them. We cooked Yum Ta Krai (Lemon Grass Salad), Gaeng Massaman Gai (Massaman Curry with Chicken), Pad Thai (Thai Noodles with Prawns), and had a Thai Dessert Tasting. Poo and her staff purchased various types of fruits that they explained and showed as at the market and allowed us to taste and eat them, along with our mango and coconut rice. YUM-O! EVERYTHING was amazing! Plus we met some really great new friends too! (Thanks again for taking some of our photos).

*Pumpkin filled with custard

The overall experience of cooking with Poo was inspirational and I walked away with a much deeper connection to Thailand, because the proceeds go to the local community. Poo and her staff were incredibly welcoming, accommodating, hilarious, very patient, took the time to explain and answer anything asked, and warm spirited. Each of them served as outstanding representation of their culture. It’s such an amazing feeling to know that incredible individuals like Poo and her staff are trying to make a difference not only for themselves, but their own community. Thank you ladies!

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