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"As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are, otherwise you will miss most of your life." -- Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha).

Food and travel are two of life's greatest passions and you can combine your love of both with an international cooking class in the country of your choice. While most people tend to think that France and Italy are the natural places to go to learn the art of international cooking, if you look further a field, you'll discover a vast array of exotic options and palate pleasing alternatives. Bon App├ętit.

Morocco

For a journey into the aromatic flavors and aromas of North Africa, look no further than Cuisine International's (tel. 214/373-1161; www.cuisineinternational.com) cooking school at Dar Liqma -- a luxurious palazzo located just outside Marrakech, set against the backdrop of the majestic Atlas and Jbel Ette Mountains. There are still four courses set to run in 2007 -- October 13, October 20, October 27 and November 3 -- or you could plan ahead for the 2008 classes in February and March. The 2007 one week class is priced from $2395 per person based on double occupancy in a standard room, with deluxe rooms also available for an additional $200. These prices include seven-nights accommodation at Dar Liqama, all meals and wine at the palazzo, cooking school tuition, excursions and transfers to and from Marrakech airport. Non-cooking guests are also welcome to join their culinary partners from $1995. The palazzo itself is a magnificent traditional Moroccan style building set in date palm-filled gardens, featuring swimming pools, fountains, a Hammam (Turkish steam bath), an exercise spa, and tennis courts.

Culinary guests participate in eight to nine hands-on cooking lessons during the week, teaching participants how to produce traditional Moroccan dishes like Tagines, Chachouka, Harira, B'Stilla, Couscous aux sept legumes, Kebabs and an assortment of sweet and savory pastries. Apart from the kitchen, visitors can also enjoy exploring the cultural highlights of Marrakech and the stunning surrounds of the Atlas Mountains. Activities include: a guided shopping tour of the souk in the Medina; a day trek in the Atlas mountains; camel-riding in the Palmeraie (a grove of 150,000 plus palm trees); a tour of major historical attractions of Marrakech including the Koutoubia Minaret, Bahia Palace, Saadians tombs and Dar Si Said Museum; relaxing in the Hammam (Turkish steam bath), hot tub and by the swimming pool; and traditional Moroccan tea with Moroccan pastries accompanied by local musicians by the pool or in the interior courtyard.

Mexico

La Casa de los Sabores (tel. +52/951-516-5704; www.laolla.com.mx/Oaxaca/sabores1.htm) -- House of Flavors -- is a Bed and Breakfast and cooking school located in downtown Oaxaca, offering small, intimate classes at very reasonable prices. Affiliated with La Olla, a well known eatery serving traditional and modern Oaxacan cuisine using locally grown produce, classes are led by chef and owner of La Olla -- Pilar Cabrera. As each class can be tailor-made, participants can choose the dishes they would like to learn, or perhaps indulge in an entire chocolate inspired dessert class. Sample dishes include a variety of "mole" sauces, banana leaf-wrapped tamales and a vast array of soups, all using typical Oaxaca ingredients. Classes are conducted in English or Spanish and feature approximately three hours of hands-on instruction and then a further hour or two to enjoy the fruits of your labor -- usually a five course meal (served with a glass of mescal) to be savored on the private hotel patio. Class fees are $70 per person for a private class of up to six people, or $60 per person in a shared class. Additional guests can attend the lunch you prepare for $20. The bed and breakfast is a simple yet comfortable traditional Mexican home with five guest rooms priced at $65 per night for a double room including a two course gourmet breakfast. All rooms have high ceilings, king size bed or two twins, bathroom and the four ground floor rooms open on to a central patio. The property also features traditional massage and an herbal sweat bath house -- aTemazcal. These traditional baths were used by the Aztecs for therapeutic cleansing, purification and rituals, combining the energy of fire with wood, rocks, water and herbs to purify body, mind and spirit.

India

Indo Vacations (tel. +91/941-431-2872; www.indovacations.net/english/Indian-Cookery.htm) offers one-week Indian cooking classes based in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Participants can arrange their own accommodation, or Indo Vacations can organize for you to stay at a guest house located close to the school. Run by an Indian family, Jaipur Guest House offers air-cooled rooms with comfortable double beds, gardens, home made meals and laundry service for $245 to $350 for a week. Six days of classes cost $445 per person under the tutelage of Mrs. Sunita Minglani, an experienced cooking teacher, well known for her specialty regional dishes. Tuition includes lessons on Indian spices, different varieties of bread preparation, Paratha (stuffed breads), Tandoori cooking, curries, pickling and an assortment of side dishes and Pakwan (sweet dishes) from Northern and Southern India. Email Indo Vacations at info@indovacations.net for further course date details.

Thailand

Thai food would have to be one of the most diverse and delicious cuisines in the world. Uncovering its secrets and being able to reproduce culinary delights in your own kitchen is on the menu at the Baipai Thai Cooking School (tel.+662/294-9029; www.baipai.com), located in Bangkok. Courses are hand-on, small (a maximum of ten participants) and conducted in English. During all classes, the emphasis is always focused on three themes: traditional Thai technique; innovative use of ingredients; and esthetic presentation. The school offers a wide variety of four-hour morning cooking classes each day (except Mondays) and there is a rotation of five set menus so that you can attend five days in a row and complete an entire selection of dishes, or just do a single day with a menu to suit you. Special cooking classes and private tuition is also available. Each class costs $50 so that a complete five day session is $250. Menus include specialties like Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango, Chicken Satay, Green Curry, Thai Style Fried Rice Noodle, Fish cakes, Chicken in Pandanus Leaf, Prawn in Tamarind Sauce, Roasted Duck in Red Curry and spring rolls. Of course eating the food you have prepared is one of the highlights.

Feeling hungry yet?

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