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Jungle Cooking Course

Not your average culinary class, but to learn about how to survive in a jungle.          
           “Jungle survival” sounds slightly ominous. It could come from a reality television show or out of the pages of a magazine geared towards those who think a month in the wild is a vacation. This is The Peak Adventure Tour’s latest program to fulfill the needs of those who fond for adventures. Especially for trek seekers, who like to spend sometime and cooking in the jungle without any cooking utensils. It is a class with a twist as it takes place outdoors. That fact alone begs the question of how well you would survive if left to your own devices in a forest or jungle.
           In recent years, there has been a boom in trekking and a growing need for food to go along with the hikes. In response, The Peak has come up with a “Jungle Survival” cooking course, designed to train would-be adventurers how to brave the wilderness without starving.
  
           Start our mild outing day, no major predators or hunting for fresh meats. We’ll take you to the Thanin Market, known for selling fresh ingredients from jungle everyday such as taro, sweet potato, various wild mushrooms, herbs and vegetables. After purchased a number of ingredients, it is time to go to the jungle. It is actually at the background of a cookery school. Neatly sectioned off by bamboo walls and announced by a sign in red stylish letters spelling out the words “The Jungle”, it is a small grassy area shaded by trees.
          This mock up jungle is an unusual hybrid of the natural and the artificial. Even though the bamboo walls are clearly man made. The table and benches combining to be dining area made of simple wooden planks. The cooking fire is authentic. No fancy barbecue grills, just an open pit with a bamboo rack on which to lean cooking utensils.
          First on the schedule was learning how to find the drinking water. The fact that rivers run through jungle, but the advantage to get water out of trees is that it is guaranteed to be free of bacteria, dirt and bugs. Two excellent sources of water are banana trees and bamboo. As both have hollow spaces in their trunks, they can absorb rainwater. We’ll demonstrate how to tap on different sections of a bamboo trunk to discern which one is empty and which one is filled with water. Then the water can be collected from the appropriate section.
          Unfortunately that’s not all the bamboo grasses and banana trees are used for. Indeed, these versatile plants or parts of them are to feature again and again in various forms throughout the day. Obviously when in the jungle, these two are your best friends.
          The next task was to chop the trunk into smaller cylinders to use for cooking rice. Recommend using heavy-duty knife and struck the blade against the bamboo, turning the trunk at intervals. You’ll deftly cut off a section in no time. Full the bamboo with rice and water, then roll up sections of banana leaf to plug the cylinders and lean them against the bamboo rack in the cooking pit. On the usual campfire’s menu roasted corn wrap in banana leaves (to prevent it from burning then bury under the ashes in the pit) and sweet potatoes goes as is. They will be the first to be ready. The next dish is fried eggs on banana leaves. This requires a folding banana leaf into a small rectangle container holding with toothpicks, which made from bamboo. Crack open an egg into it, find a flat part of rock, ash or the wire mesh grill in the pit to put it on, and your breakfast is on the way.
          You could imagine surviving with this repertoire. If you go on an adventure tours, you’ll see how the hill tribes eat. All the seasoning they use is a mix of salt, chilly and shallots. It would be okay at first, but after while you’ll get sick of it. So let’s make it creative, everyone participating will make your trekking and jungle exploring more enjoyable. You don’t needs any kitchen utensils, all you needs are ingredients, a knife and a lighter.
          One of the stars is a steamed fish curry in a thick coconut shell. A simpler option on the forest menu is whole fish wrap in banana leaves, which is buried under the ashes and grilled chicken on the fire pit. The last one is boil wild banana with coconut milk in a bamboo cylinder for dessert. The jungle cooking course could provide basic training, but the lessons could not be applied in a straightforward fashion as they would be in a kitchen. Out in the jungle there are many factors to consider, the recipes and procedures have to be adapted accordingly. For example, how much water to include with the rice, how long to cook it depends on the circumference and thickness of the bamboo. Obviously there is no thermostat control on the open fire.

          

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