Written by Sophie
Indian Subcontinent Specialist
From a tasty Moroccan cookery class to a South African culture-cuisine tour, our specialists share some of their food experiences from around the world.
Pasta-making in Tuscany
By Italy specialist Caroline
Making fresh pasta, using flour and eggs, is a fun way to learn about this cornerstone of classic Italian food — even if it’s so much harder than it looks.
At the Giglio Cooking School just outside Florence, you’ll learn how to make different types and shapes of pasta from scratch. You’ll also learn about the traditions surrounding Italian meals, where pasta is customarily served as the primi (first course) after the appetizer but before the secondi (meat or fish dish).
I can also recommend the pasta-making class at the Castello di Meleto in the Chianti region of Tuscany, where the food you create will be matched with local red, white and dessert wines.
- Take a look at our other food highlights of Italy
Café Clock Cookery School, Morocco
By Morocco specialist Jessica
Café Clock, in the heart of the medina in Fez, offers a wonderful cookery course, which I was lucky enough to experience on my recent visit.
Our first task was to visit the local food market with Saoud our chef to hand-pick the produce we needed for our dishes.
The array of colors bursting from each street stall, the sounds of bartering, and the smells of herbs, spices and different meats made this a truly multi-sensory experience.
Back at Café Clock, we got down to business, chopping, slicing, simmering and kneading. The kitchen was quickly filled by the sweet aromas of Moroccan spices.
My menu was a tasty lentil soup, a lamb tagine — as tender as it would have been had I left it in the oven to slow cook for a week — and little macaroons to finish.
I left with a full belly and fantastic memories.
Family cooking, Brahmin style, India
By India specialist Sophie
The Thakur family live in one of Jodhpur's famous blue houses in the heart of the city, and welcome guests in for a unique vegetarian cookery experience.
You’ll enter the heart of the house, the kitchen, where a hands-on approach is the best way to get involved. Chop, slice, stir and fry some new and unusual ingredients. Paneer (homemade, unsalted white cheese) is popular in dishes throughout India and there is always an aloo (potato) dish on the table, among the okra, mango, chili and various other curries and chutneys. If you don't like it too hot, it can be toned down.
Learn about the family's Brahmin beliefs and how they change their diet to reflect them, including the alternatives they use instead of onions, garlic and bulbous plants.
While your Rajasthani vegetarian dishes are cooking, sit and relax with a cup of chai before dishing up and enjoying your creations.
Cape Eats Tour, South Africa
By South Africa specialist Kristin
To experience authentic South African cuisine I'd recommend taking the Cape Eats Tour.
Starting in the Cape Malay neighborhood in Cape Town, we stopped for some melkert (milk tart) and koeksisters (similar to doughnuts). We munched these sweet treats as we visited the community craft foundations, which support single mothers and other causes.
Led by our guide, we walked through the streets of Cape Town, sampling local cuisine in the markets, and passed Asian and Middle Eastern food stalls where the scent of spices filled the air.
We visited the Civic Building, where Nelson Mandela gave his speech after his imprisonment. Then moved on to enjoy some pap (corn porridge), samp (crushed corn) and beans, and vetkoek (fried bread).
We topped off the day with a coffee at the steampunk-inspired Truth Coffee Shop, and a sweet (and surprisingly healthy) treat at Honest Chocolate.
Thai for a Day, Thailand
By Thailand specialist Martin
The Mae Changfong family's traditional teak-wood house is located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. It’s here, amid the rice fields and friendly communities, that you can join the Thai for a Day experience.
The house backs on to a garden filled with fruit trees, exotic vegetables and herbal and medicinal plants. You get to see where your ingredients come from and learn how they differ from one another.
The back garden is a hub of activity when it’s time to cook. With the help of the whole family you're taught how to prepare recipes from scratch.
These include favorites such as green and red curry, and also some of their own dishes, including curried noodle soup and northern-style pork with tomato (think bolognese with a Thai twist).
Children can learn how to cook traditional Thai pancakes and also take part in a pad Thai competition — who can cook the tastiest serving, in the quickest time?
Seafest, New Zealand
By New Zealand specialist Katie
When thinking of New Zealand's best-loved food, most people's first thought would probably be lamb.
However, throughout my time in the country I soon discovered that, as most Kiwis live by or near the ocean, they have a real love of the abundant kai moana ('food of the sea') that surrounds them. This is celebrated at the annual Seafest weekend festival that takes place in Kaikoura each October.
Locals and visitors gather to enjoy seafood delicacies such as green-lipped mussels, paua (sea snails) and crayfish, while enjoying the fun atmosphere and entertainment on offer. And, of course, washing it all down with a glass or two of delicious local Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Hog roast, Peru
By Peru specialist Nik
Every Sunday a lady (above) arrives in Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu. She told me she had been slow-cooking this chicharrones (hog roast) all night — the Peruvian equivalent of a Sunday roast.
I turned down the Peruvian potatoes and went straight for the meat: it was amazingly succulent, with the best crackling I’ve ever tasted. When I walked past again an hour later she had completely sold out; her and her son were finishing the leftovers.
Moral of the story: don't be afraid to try street food; grab it while it's hot.
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