We loved a day spent with the hilarious Water Wheel Cooking class guides so much we brought our university age grandson back the next year and will bring another one in 2019.

The time the 5 people in our group spent in the market learning how to recognize the best crabs, which sea items were fresh and which not, what the spices were, etc. and buying our food that we would be soon cooking was great. We arrived at the thatched roof, open air, cooking and dining hall and turned our food bags over to someone who would do some washing and prep work. Then put on our “pajamas” (they were like the clothes vegetable gardeners usually wear including cone hats – made us quite photogenic) and out past the water wheel into the organic gardens to weed, water and plant some cilantro plants alongside the owner of that plot. We got some quick lessons on how to fertilize with seaweed and other tips for staying organic. Leaving the garden, we picked a few more things we would need for our menu, including lemon grass. But wait! No cooking yet! We came face to face with a big lake.

So next on our day’s journey, we climbed into round woven boats. Our helmsman gave us turns at locomoting it (I use the word “turn” advisedly – on my turn we turned around in circles more than went straight ahead.) When we went next to the rushes, our guide taught us fun things to make out of them, including a very realistic grasshopper.

Out of the boats and into the meadow where a water buffalo waited for selfies with us – beside, sitting on, and, for the brave ones, standing on. Then to wash up, and operate the big stone grinder to make rice flour for rice paper. While waiting for the rice paper to finish over the coals, foot baths and massages were available.

Then the big moment. With cooking hats and aprons on we made a banquet of delectable and picturesque items, stopping to eat as we went. We made flamed fish, tossed pancake thingies in the air (another fun photo op), and created delightful little creatures, butterflies and flowers made out of tomatoes, carrots and such, and much more. All the time our lead chef regaled us with funny stories and great info about Vietnamese cooking and ingredients.

If I hear of anyone coming to the Central Vietnam area, I do everything I can to convince them to come to Hoi An for a memorable day experiencing the Water Wheel cooking class!

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