Cooking classes are a great way to learn about cuisines. Trouble is, the teacher isn't around at dinner time, when you're most likely to need a guiding hand. But if you have your eye on Thai, there is a teacher who makes house calls. Sort of.
Global Village is a Seattle company that offers a mini-correspondence course in Thai cuisine. It sells baskets by mail that are filled with hard-to-find ingredients. A booklet gives recipes and information about the culture.
The Thai Village Basket, the most popular of the company's six baskets, includes dried galangal (a fragrant ginger-like root), chili paste with holy basil leaves, two cans of coconut milk, nuoc mam (fish sauce), red curry paste, tom yom paste (a sweet/sour mix of lemon grass, kaffir lime, chilies and spices) and rice stick noodles. The booklet explains that these ingredients, supplementedwith a few fresh items from your supermarket, translate to hot-and-sour soup, galangal coconut soup, chicken and chili basil stir-fry, pad Thai noodles and red curry beef or pork.
The basket is $32 plus $6 shipping. For a complete list of packages, call (800) 745-5226.