It’s tastier than it sounds
The Helping Hands Cooking School operates out of the Klong Toey slum in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. It is run by Kung Poo, a remarkable woman who started her working life as a street vendor in the slum, cooking pad thais for the locals. With help from an NGO she has started up her cooking school, produced a cookbook, and now assists others to start-up small businesses from Klong Toey.
Our 4 hour experience started with a tour of Bangkok’s largest wet market. On our tour we saw no other foreigners and were introduced to some exotic ingredients including water bugs, live eels, turtles, mountains of fresh herbs and a huge variety of exotic tropical fruits like rambutans, durians and dragonfruit.
The cooking school itself uses basic equipment to produce fresh-from-the-market dishes that would rival any Thai restaurant in Sydney. We made Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam), Tom Yum Goong soup and a Pad Thai noodle dish. Our ten-year-old daughter tucked into everything she made and Poo was very careful that she removed any traces of chilli from her ingredients. Another participant was a vegetarian which Poo accommodated with a minimum of fuss. Despite the fact the school is described as being in the slum it was clean and hygienic. There was very little waiting around as many ingredients were pre-prepared and most of the time was spent either cooking or eating.
To finish off our session Poo prepared a divinely sweet mango and sticky rice dessert and gave a big goodbye hug to our daughter as she said only had boys of her own. Classes are limited to only ten participants so booking ahead is essential.
If you get the chance to go to Bangkok and want a hands-on experience offering an insight into the lives of Thai people that gives back the community, you need to go and cook with Poo.