Ubud, Bali – A day at Cooking School

I was reluctant to get out of bed this morning as my alarm sounded for the first time since I left New Zealand. I was up late last night drinking cheap whiskey and talking smack with my Dutch neighbours which was fabulous, and well worth the mere 4 hours sleep that followed. As I went to leave, I noticed a piece of paper left for me on the balcony. A series of illustrations from the Dutch couple that depicted our story telling from last night. What a fantastic souvenir!

After breakfast featuring a banana pancake with fresh watermelon juice, I await my driver to Paon Balinese Cooking School.

Cooking School begins at the Ubud market. I’m overwhelmed by the smell of fermenting fruit and seafood as we wade through rubbish from each stall to the next. This market is not so dissimilar from other South East Asian markets I’ve visited in the last couple of years. But it seems that my nose has forgotten just how pungent these lingering scents can be.

As we escape the market, we head off to a local temple to learn about the daily offerings. To enter you must be appropriately dressed and women are not allowed to enter if they’re menstruating. The intricacy of these structures is something to marvel and the burning incense with the offerings kindly take the edge off the stench wafting from the market.

Now it’s time to visit a rice paddy field. It’s nice to be surrounded by these luscious green fields as we learn about the Dutch contribution of irrigation to Indonesia and the process of growing and harvesting rice.

From here its off to the cooking school which is held at a traditional Balinese home compound. As we sip an iced lemon drink, we learn about the different buildings and their purpose within the compound, the importance of family and the roles of the family heirachy.

At last, it’s time to put on our aprons and get in the kitchen! I’m paired with a Polish gentleman whose wife is looking after their baby. We discuss the food culture in Poland and New Zealand as we throw together a mushroom soup, marinaded tempeh, chicken curry, gado gado, Balinese satay, steamed fish and a banana & jackfruit pudding for dessert. Everything is delicious! And washed down with a cold bottle of Bintang. Happy days!

After saying our goodbyes, I head back to the hotel for a long bath and early night. Loving my time in Ubud!

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