My Grandma’s Home Cooking is a cooking class different to the numerous other classes offered in Hoi An – which is good as you can see classes offered around every other corners, often by restaurants and other food places. This class is run by a private person, Phong, and the course is on one of the islands near Hoi An, and not in town itself. So the course actually includes a little trip to rural Hoi An.
Like most other cooking classes you can join a market tour before the classes – but it costs $5 extra (which I find unusual). I didn’t do the market trip for a change, so cannot comment on it.
The meeting point is the office of Heaven and Earth Bicycle Tour on the little, and will then be brought to the little pier to join the boat that brings you to the kitchen.
The 40 minute boat ride alone makes this course worthwhile It is nice to sit back and watch the local life along the river. When ariving on the little island it is a 5 minute walk, and see a bit more of the rural life here with litle pathes and locals working in fields and ponds.
The class itself takes place in the private house of the teacher Phong and her family – including the person who provided the name of the course. It is within a small settlement in a quite and lovely surrounding and has a very family like atmsophere. Throughout the day you might meet her little son, her husband and grandma. The cooking station is in the garden, though nicely protected from rain (which was needed when I did it).
Before the cooking started Phong talks a bit about the food in Vietnam and the fresh ingredients, before showing some of the tools used by the villagers in the past – including a manul machine to crush rice to get rice milk. Some of the processes were shown by her grandmother (who made it look so easy depsite her old age), but we had to make some rice milk – it is easier said than done. We used the rice milk then to prepare our own rice noodle over an open fire. It was an interesting method – but obviously we were told how to do it back home (need to get the right equipment….).
After all the rather unusual activities (and very interesting) activities the actually cooking took place. We did a total of 4 dishes: 1) Banh Xeo (with the home made rice paper); 2) Papaya Salad; 3) Fish Claypot (Ca Kho To); 4)Grilled pork (Thit Nuong).
Phong is a good teacher who carefully shows the various steps of the preparation, highlighting some techniques and talking more about the local food.
After each dish is prepared you sit down to eat it, joined by several members o Phong’s family. You will also get some fresh fruit and drinks, including Ca fe sua da. it really felt like being part of their home for a few hours.
After the class you can walk a little bit around to explore the village before heading back to Hoi An by boat.
From all the cooking classes I have visited it was probably the most unusual one, mainly because it took place in such rural area. By meeting Phong’s fmily, inclduing her grandmother, it also had a family feel to it. Hearing about other classes in Hoi An where you only wathc a chef preparing dishes this class is definetly a hands-on course. Overall I would highly recommend to visit this cooking class – even if it is only to experience a bit of Vietnam’s rural life.