Combine travel with learning experiences

Sunday, January 11, 2004

People often combine vacations with advancing their hobbies -- from taking golf lessons to improving photographic techniques or polishing foreign language skills. So, why not combine your travel with a culinary education?

Whether or not you've already picked your destination, you can search the Internet for local cooking classes or schools for nonprofessionals, many of which specialize in regional food styles.

Where better than California's Napa Valley to learn about food and wine? Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts -- www.copia.org/ -- is the home of Julia's Kitchen, named for Julia Child, where you can watch chefs in action.

Click on "Programs" to see what's coming up, including "Death by Chocolate" in February.

Click on "About Copia" to see where the name comes from.

When you're in New Orleans, stroll into the French Quarter and visit the New Orleans School of Cooking -- www.thelouisianageneralstore.com/ -- and learn a few local specialties.

The Culinary Institute of New Orleans -- www.ci-no.com/classes.html -- and the New Orleans Cooking Experience -- www.neworleanscookingexperience.com/ -- offer broad samples of Louisiana cuisine from gumbo to oyster artichoke souffle with oyster sauce.

The next time you're in Chicago, you could set aside some time for Best Chefs -- www.bestchefs.com/ -- where classes for singles are scheduled in January. This past fall they offered classes at restaurants around the metro area.

Click on "Cooking Classes" and look under "Recipe Box" for the directions on crab puffs with garlic alioli.

Going south of the border?

Learn some of Mexico's distinctive cuisines while exploring the picturesque central Mexico city of San Miguel de Allende www.internetsanmiguel.com/index.html -- which offers a separate page on local cooking schools, along with other reasons to visit.

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