When I travel to places I’ve never been, one of the things that I like to do is take a cooking class there. I’ve found them to be not only fun and educational but these classes are a great way to make a personal connection with the people of that area while I also get to learn their foods, culture and history. When I went to Argentina, I learned to cook empanadas. In Spain, I learned to cook paella. I’ve done the same in Istanbul and the Greek Isles. The class in Istanbul also included a walk through the market to select all the foods we’d need to make our meal. That experience was as good as the cooking instruction!
I included this on my itinerary on my recent trip to Japan. Why not learn to make sushi in Tokyo! I typically use TripAdvisor.com to search for classes, then study the reviews and the linked website. I study which type of class I’m looking for, the times and the costs. I’ve found that most classes cost about the same as a dinner in a nice restaurant so it’s usually quite affordable.
I decided to go with Yuka Mazda’s cooking class (see the link below) where she teaches how to prepare not just sushi but sashimi as well as miso soups. As is the case with many of these classes, the class is taught in their own home. Usually when you travel, you end up eating in restaurants or trying various street foods. But what I like about taking these classes is that you get to go into the homes of the local people. You get to learn about their world, their local markets, their customs and their languages. Although the classes have all been in English, you learn food names, local phrases and interesting little facts in the local language. So these classes are just as much about culture as it is about food. Usually the classes have others who are taking the class too. In Tokyo, we had about 8 others that took the class along with me. One couple was from England. One was from Hawaii. Another was from Minnesota. You never know where people are coming from but they add to the fun of getting to meet interesting people who share the same love for good foods and who also love to travel. That makes for great conversation around the table while dining later.
Chef, food judge, TV personality, author and Instructor Yuka Mazda lead an extensive course that lasted over 4 hours – from 9:00 AM to 1:30PM. That included meeting us at the subway station and escorting us to her home. She provided us the course orientation, food preparation instruction and wrapped it all up with a full dinner with of the foods we just made. Sake and wine or tea included! Yuka emphasized safe, proper handling of seafood. In addition she shows how to prepare and assemble ingredients that go into a sushi roll along with knife skills for slicing fish for sushimi. These were delicious foods that we got to make, tasty and colorful, and its a very enjoyable social encounter.
I highly recommend this fun experience. I haven’t been disappointed once and this course is a winner too!