“I cooked with Poo, and I liked it” reads the apron at the Cooking with Poo class. From my personal experience, I generally agree with that statement; the program was very interesting.
Three years ago I was in Bangkok, studying Reiki, and getting a physical for work. I wanted to share my love of Thai food with my boyfriend at the time by cooking him a real Thai meal so I was in need of a decent cookbook.
“You must get Cooking with Poo! It’s the best Thai cookbook out there. The recipes are excellent and she gives you Western ingredient equivalents,” my beautiful Singaporian classmate said one day as we were scanning Reiki books at the Kinokuniya bookstore in Siam Paragan Mall. Sold on the idea, I asked the bookstore if they had a copy. Sold out. I went to Asia Books. Sold out. But, they had one copy at the bookstore on Sukhumvit Rd. Would I like them to hold it for me? Yes, please. Only one book left in all of Bangkok, and I got it! This is a good sign.
The recipes were amazing. A year later I found myself in Bangkok again. Time to try the cooking class to see what new information and cooking techniques I could gain from the experience.
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The meeting point was Emporium Suites, right next to Phrom Pong BTS station. I showed up at the meet time of 8:30 am, and our small group was whisked away to Klong Toey slum for an incredible market tour. There were buckets of frogs, fish, snails, clams, and beautiful mountains of textured greens. This was my fourth Thai cooking class, and this market tour was the best that I’d ever had. You see such an immense bounty of fresh food for sale.
The cooking class itself felt rushed and very much like a performance. We weren’t so much learning about how to prepare the amazing Thai sauces and spice mixtures as putting together a bunch of store bought liquids, meats and vegetables in a pan, stirring it around, and then eating.
After this, we listened to a speech about the community and the changes that Poo was helping to make since she had joined forces with Helping Hands. Immediately afterwards, she welcomed us to buy books which she would sign and aprons and anything else that we would like to help support Poo’s initiatives in the slums. If you hadn’t read the website, book, or listened to the speech at the end, the initiatives were also documented all over the walls so that you could read the positive changes that were going on. She’s a very positive and inspiring woman.
I joined the rush of my classmates to do their part to support the community by buying several books for birthday gifts for friends, even though ending the program like this seemed awkward. However, we left with our new purchases and chose a free recipe in a brightly colored bag near the door to leave, which was a nice touch.
With my new found knowledge on what store bought products were the best to buy, I headed to the supermarket and stocked up on the recommended products to take home to recreate the dishes we learned. Still wanting to understand what gave each product its flavors and how it was made, I took another course at Silom Cooking School.