So lets just forget the whole JBR thing, time allows me very little these days.
Bumi Bali Cooking Class
When I first started travelling to Bali I don’t think they even had cooking courses, when I did hear about them I thought they were for older people. As the years and holidays passed the idea of cooking our favorite Balinese food started to appeal to me. Then at last I came to a point in my life where a cooking class sounded rather interesting!
The amount of talk that involves Balinese cooking classes on this forum would lead you to presume that it is a simple matter to choose and book a class, not so.
First of all you need to find one in the area you choose, are they held on the days you will be there? Does the class visit the markets? Do you get hands on experience and most importantly do you get to keep the apron?
After days of research I found the only class that answers yes to all of these questions was Bumi Bali, who could resist it with a name like that! A few emails later we book into a small class of ten people, with us numbering five we would have the monopoly and lots of fun.
We turn up a couple of minutes late on the day of our class and are ushered to an open room at the back of the restaurant. There is a collection of tables placed in a large u shape with about twenty five people already seated. So much for the small class. On the table in front of each seat is a cook book and a black and white checked apron, I don’t know why but I really love my flimsy little apron.
Our teacher Ketut arrives and I can tell straight away this is going to be a lot of fun, he has one of those amazing smiles that lights up his whole face, it doesn’t even matter that I can’t understand what he is saying, he is so happy and warm that I’m enjoying just being a part of the moment.
Ketut talks for a while about food ingredients, he shows us different types of vegetables and explains what they are used for, and then it’s off to the markets.
All twenty five of us follow Ketut along the streets of Ubud walking single file like a group of ducklings, we chatter as we dodge holes and motor bikes, then laugh as we run around a car parked on the footpath and we try not to get run over. It’s early but already the air is warm and humid, the streets are crowded with people and bikes, busy, busy, busy.
I am last in line and spend the 15min walk talking to the assistant cook he is a lovely young man who tells me that he is going to Germany to teach at a five star hotel. The other day our driver was telling me how he had been working on cruise ships in Europe and only came home to Bali during the slow season… kudos to them!! .
We get to the markets and venture down the cement steps into the fresh food section, I have been here before but didn’t last long as the smell was worse than any interest I had back then. Today it’s a different story, today I am going to cook Balinese food, enthusiasm dulls the sense of smell. I approach the markets with an attitude of learning and soak up all that Ketut shows us, herbs and spices, fresh vegetables and stinky fish.
Wandering through the markets in our duck like line, we take up way to much space and I’m sure we are annoying the older ladies who are trying to sell their fresh produce.
The stall like shops are set up along tight corridors that contain all odors, and allow no fresh air. Pots and pans, spices and packages of all colours and sizes are packed so high and deep that we can’t see where we are going; to let someone pass you must press up against each other and the wares around you.
Ketut stops in front of a shop and we gather around straining our necks and ears all the while causing a blockage in the corridor, I do feel a little guilty for disrupting the daily routine of the locals, something I would usually avoid at all cost. I am also aware of the fact that most of the shop keepers will not benefit from our passage and wonder what they make of us; they certainly scrutinize us as we pass. I try very hard not to bump into things and give my biggest most friendly smiles.
There is a young lady behind the counter where we stop and she obligingly holds up spices and grain as Ketut explains what they are and how we will use them.
Dressed in a T-shirt and jeans she has absolutely no interest in us, I love her attitude and spend most of the time at the stall watching how she reacts to us ducklings. The young girl is not rude or negative in anyway and occasionally there is a slow smile. I think she is listening for words she recognizes but also she just wants to get this over and done with so she can get back to her job. This is the Bali I love, real people not pawning over me because I’m a tourist.
After looking at and discussing her products we waddle along the corridors stopping every now and then to look quickly at things we pass. Look a pile of saffron! Yes a pile, how much is that worth like a million dollars??? Apparently not, different part of the plant Ketut says.
Going full circle we make our way back to the cement steps and into the sunshine. Excitement makes us babble as once again we form a single line and make our way back to Bumi Bali.