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A Food Lover's Guide To Authentic Food Experiences

Meet new people and learn to cook like a local, says Nadia El Ferdaoussi.


Steer clear of the inauthentic tourist trail and opt for real experiences when you're on holiday. FOOD AND WINE contributor Nadia El Ferdaoussi shares her pick of the cookery classes that will give you a real taste of a country.

At a time when tourists are looking for an increasingly more immersive travel experience, when we all want to ‘live like locals’, planning a trip around food and drink related activities looks like the way forward. As experiential holidays are on the rise and we realise that these connections with local people create stronger memories, joining a cookery class on your travels could be the best way to meet people, learn something new, give back to the local community and of course try some authentic cuisine.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Four or six-night cooking holidays in Italy, hosted in a historic country house in Fara Sabina. Here you’ll experience ‘la dolce vita’, with full immersion into the Italian lifestyle. Just 35 minutes from Rome, when you’re not learning a new dish during cookery lessons, you can lounge by the pool and enjoy the gardens or the local village. Lessons cover an entire meal from antipasti, primo piatti, secondi and dolce. You’ll also get the opportunity to do some wine tasting. 

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A dinner party with a difference. On arrival, you’ll be paired up (preferably with strangers) and put into teams to create different parts of an entire meal. You’re given a recipe to follow, but improvisation is encouraged. Everyone knows the famous, “you will always find me in the kitchen at parties” and it couldn’t be more true for Food Jams which appeared on Masterchef South Africa. More of a gathering of people who cook, rather than a formal lesson, you’ll learn more than just how to make some local specialities. 

A quintessential Thai experience that cannot be missed. Visit the food market where you’ll learn about the ingredients that go into authentic Thai food and pick up everything you need to create a couple of the most popular dishes. There’s a different menu each day, but you can expect classics such as prawn Pad Thai, sticky mango rice, green curry and coconut rice.

This vegan, organic cooking school offers a chance for those following a plant based diet to get in on the fun. Some of the most popular classes include fresh pasta, pizza and bread making, gluten free recipes and Italian soups. A lot of cookery classes can be focussed on diets that don’t cater to vegans and vegetarians, especially in Italy, so this is a great option to create some authentic Tuscan classics with a twist.

Main image: Instagram @luccacookingschool

Author: Nadia El Ferdaoussi

Dublin native, Nadia is a freelance travel writer whose plan is to wander the globe until the novelty wears off (if that ever happens). Despite travelling to exotic locations the world over, her favourite country is Ireland, “when the sun shines, there’s no better place.” Her dream job would be mystery shopping in hotels, since she has a keen eye for detail and already spends most of her time living out of a suitcase. Nadia has a new found passion for wine and is quickly moving up through the ranks in terms of wine education. Her bucket list destination? Antarctica. 
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