My friends Ma Pu Sue and her husband Lesly have been operating the Bamboo Delight Cooking Class in Nyaung Shwe for about three years now, and from all indications, business is booming. Even during the recent slow season they still had clients nearly every day of the week. Clearly, they have gained a very good reputation via word of mouth recommendations and reviews on Internet sites such as Trip Advisor.
I’ve been privileged to have been a guest at Sue and Lesly’s home for many meals over the years, but until recently I had never observed one of their cooking classes. But during my most recent visit to Nyaung Shwe, Ye Man Oo — the boy from Mandalay who is helping us with Chinlone Books — had gone with me to visit Ma Pu Sue and seemed quite intrigued with the idea of these cooking classes and asked if we could observe one. Sue graciously agreed to let us be “flies on the wall” during a scheduled class the next day.
Along with Ye Man Oo’s friend from Mandalay, Zin Min Phyo, we arrived at the appointed hour and found eight tourists already in the process of cutting, peeling, folding, stirring and preparing the lunch that Sue and Lesly had planned. After all the prep work was done, it was time to commence the actual cooking. As Lesly explained to us, the timing of cooking each dish is crucial. You don’t want to have something prepared too quickly and have it sit and get cold, only to end up waiting on a stubborn curry or soup to finish cooking. And there was indeed an array of different dishes being prepared, from a vegetable curry and a traditional Burmese tea leaf salad, to dumplings, tomato salad, and a stir fry dish.
By the time everything was finished, Ye Man Oo, Zin Min Phyo and I were preparing to say goodbye and say thank you for letting us sit in on the class, but Sue and Lesly insisted that we stay and sample some of the dishes. It was an unexpected lunch, but I can assure you it was a tasty one!