One thing you may have noticed from my blog or Instagram is that I love a good cooking class. Dustin and I have done a few here in Minnesota, but mostly, we love to learn to cook when we’re far away from home.
There are so many great reasons to do a cooking class in a foreign country, but today I’ve narrowed it down to the top things I’ve loved about doing classes in France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, and many more places around the world.
Keep reading to see why cooking classes are one thing I can’t get enough of.
1. Chat With a Local
When you take a cooking class in a foreign country, you sign up for a few hours of time with a local chef. Since they probably can’t really spend all that time just teaching you how to cook, you generally get a few valuable hours of chatting in.
This is a great opportunity to learn things about the local way of life that you never understood before. You can hear about the ways they live, how the economy is doing, what they do in their free time—whatever interests you.
You’ll have the opportunity to learn things you never would otherwise—like when we learned from a Portuguese chef that his mother calls a spatula a “Salazar—because it scrapes the bowl like Salazar scraped money from the poor”. Where else would you ever learn a funny nugget like that?
Plus, while you’re chatting with these locals, you also have the advantage of chatting with a local chef! We make a habit of asking for restaurant recommendations, and they’re always happy to oblige, since they love food as much as we do!
2. Learn About the Culture
If you’re truly interested in learning about the history and culture of a foreign country, look at their food. After all, in every day and age, in every corner of the globe, people need to eat.
The way foods are prepared, the way flavors are combined, and the ingredients used—they all tell you a lot about a place. For instance, in Portugal, nobody would think to eat cod unless it is salted and preserved, because the waters around Portugal are so overfished.
In France, they patiently whip meringue and mix ganache for hours to create a delicate, balanced macaron, showcasing the cultural importance of perfect baking technique.
Really, these lessons aren’t just limited to cooking classes—we’ve done everything from hours-long olive oil seminars to market tours to 30 minute wine tastings and found them to be similarly valuable.
The main point is to step outside of the standard tourist box and find a foodie activity that will deepen your experience of a given place.
By talking with a local about what they eat and where it comes from, you can learn so much about a foreign culture—lessons that will serve you for the rest of your trip, in restaurants and beyond.
3. Eat Great Food
Obviously, the main reason that we love to do cooking classes is that we love to eat! We’re always on the hunt for the best restaurants, trying new foods and stepping outside of our food comfort zone.
I always love to experience a new place through food, so of course it makes sense to get an even deeper understanding of that food by doing a class.
Plus, choosing restaurants can be a challenge. When you do a cooking class, you know that you’re eating freshly prepared food, made with the support of a real chef.
We’ve found that some of the best food we’ve had when traveling has been during a cooking class. This was especially true during our cooking class in Rome, where we had the best pasta I’ve ever had!
Cooking Classes in Foreign Countries
If you’re interested in meeting locals, learning about new cultures, and, most importantly, eating great food, try giving a cooking class a try on your next trip. You might learn more than you thought possible, but at the very least you’ll enjoy some delicious dishes!
Have you ever done a cooking class in a foreign country? Tell me where in the comments!
P.S. Want to read more about cooking classes? Read my post on Making Macarons in Paris!