Part of the travelling experience is to go somewhere new and eat something you could never get back home. It’s one way I learn about the culture of the place that I’m in, and often a great way to make friends as most people just become more open and friendly with a snack or drink in hand.
So when the folk from Traveling Spoon approached me about their service, which offers travellers a home dining and/or cooking experience with a local in Asia, I was quite intrigued. It’s a chance for you to taste some local cuisine as well as interact with a local – which is quite the authentic experience many travellers are looking for these days beyond the tour packages!
Since I was in Singapore and not headed overseas anytime soon, Traveling Spoon matched me up with the current local host, a lady named Rosaline Soon who turned out to be quite a famous cook locally, having run her own restaurant in the past, she has since published three cookbooks to her name and conducts cooking classes as well.
What I liked was the personal touch – Rosaline herself dropped me a note to say hello before the session, giving me instructions on how to get to her place (deep in a residential area in Singapore, which wasn’t too far from where I live myself) and letting me know the menu for the night.
The Traveling Spoon experience is made up of 3 tracks:
- just enjoying a home cooked meal (US$20-60)
- adding a cooking lesson to the home cooked meal (US$40-$100)
- or going the full shebang with a market tour prior to your cooking session and meal. (US$80-$170)
Since I was coming after work in the evening, no market tour for me, and while I am not much of a cook, I thought I’d try the cooking lesson just for fun.
This meal was a real homey experience – Rosaline’s family was finishing up their dinner when I entered their house. She has a large kitchen with a nice island counter, and she had set up most of the prep before I arrived. She was a very nice affable sort, and we chitchatted comfortably while she showed me the ingredients and preparation method for the food. She also prepared a little set of recipes on which I could take notes and bring home with me as well.
But on to the more exciting part where we actually started cooking! Rosaline based the menu on the food from her own Peranakan and Singaporean heritage: Nyonya Laksa, Roast Pork, Ngoh Hiang and Ondeh Ondeh. My own heritage is more Hokkien, so frankly while I knew most of these foods, I didn’t eat them very often myself, so it was quite nice learning about how to make them, which definitely helped in me appreciating the food better.
All in all, I really enjoyed the experience and I think it’s a great addition to your itinerary when overseas – if you’re tired of searching out your own food or eating tour package meals, it’s a great and easy way to get the authentic local experience. Also, the meal and cooking session took about 2-2.5 hours in total, so you still have lots of time for your own adventures and experiences.
You can do it alone like I did, but I’d recommend doing this in a group if possible, because you can make and eat more – I had to pack some of the remaining food back home so as not to waste it. Also, cooking and dining is always much more fun in a group setting.
Drop Traveling Spoon a note here for more enquiries – they’ll look at your requirements and match you up with the best host available. Head on over to TravelingSpoon.com for more info– their regions so far are concentrated in the major Asian cities, but look out for more hosts and locations in future.
Thank you again to Traveling Spoon for sponsoring my experience, I really enjoyed it and I even tried it out again when I went to Hong Kong – click here for my exploration of the New Territories and cooking in Hong Kong.
Interested in more cooking classes? Check out this article I wrote for The Culture Trip on the best cooking classes in Singapore.