I don’t play sports, but I now very much understand the meaning of home-field advantage. We’ve been teaching vegan cooking lessons in our own kitchen since 2008. This past April (2015), we had the good fortune to teach a group of people in Chengdu, China. Thanks to the support of our friends and the hotel general manager everything came together all right.
We were requested by our host/good friend, Dong Dong, to prepare pizza and tiramisu - both recipes on our regular rotation of homecooked meals and relatively easy to make. All the ingredients are super easy to get here - most of the time we have everything we need regularly stocked. In an unfamiliar setting this is not the case. The language difference proved to be a bit troublesome. Also, the physical properties and availability of key items such as sticky rice powder, fresh tofu and soy milk presented a challenge. Whole soy milk, which can produce tofu, is easy to get in Japan even at your average supermarket. In Chengdu, we had to be at the small specialty tofu shop at 6am to be sure it wasn’t yet sold out. We were surprised to discover that even oregano is an item difficult to find.
We love kitchen gadgets! The kitchen was well equipped, but simple things like a silicone spatula apparently aren’t on the list of essentials. Luckily, the wife of the hotel’s general manager likes to bake and loaned us a boxful of tools and gadgets that saved the day. Next time we won’t strictly adhere to our carry-on only luggage policy and will certainly travel with a well stocked suitcase kitchen! And, the difference in heating quality and cooking time amazingly varies between appliances - the pizzas took about three times longer to cook in the hotel's electric ovens.
About 20 people attended the lesson. Some of the members were English speakers, but most spoke Chinese and our friends DongDong and Yingchu interpreted. As with any event that’s conducted in more than one language, the time needed increases. Surprisingly, none of the members are vegetarian. With the extra ingredients, we made a vegan ‘cheese’ fondue which turned out to be very popular. Hotpot is the local delicacy in Chengdu and fondu is rather similar in eating style.