The freshness Vietnamese food is astounding. For some cuisines a salad is simply lettuce. In Vietnam salad is a mix of fresh sprouts, vibrant herbs, leaves of many shapes with purple stems and varied aromas all crunching gently in your mouth beside crushed peanuts and soft rice noodles. It’s a version of heaven. And these mixed greens are served with many dishes, along with a slice of lime. So fresh. When I travel, I give myself the gift of vegan cooking classes. Then I internalize the tastes and smells of another land and bring it home to my kitchen to enjoy and share again

Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand is heaven for vegetarians and vegans. My in-laws are the authors of The Great Life Cookbook, as well as macrobiotic vegan chefs in Ithaca New York. We knew they would love a vegan Thai cooking class from Vegan Heaven while traveling with us in Thailand. I served in the Peace Corps in Northeastern “Issan” Thailand from 2003-2005. That was before I gave up eggs and dairy and started eating mostly vegan. Eating out as a vegetarian in a small town did have its limits. Eating paht pahk roo-ahm (friend mixed vegetable) got old that first year before I became

I discovered May Kaidee Vegetarian Restaurant in Bangkok near the end of my Peace Corps service in 2005. The owner glided across the dining room, dressed in golden Thai flames and perfectly wrapped fabric. She was dancing, she was singing, and I was in love. It is clear in her vegan Thai cooking classes and cookbooks: May Kaidee is a chef who feeds your soul. On my last day in Bangkok, I finished producing the first book I ever co-authored, “Guide to Being Vegetarian in Thailand”. I victoriously wrangled 5 copies from the Peace Corps office printer. This was before smart phones and wifi. I

Picture a rainbow of bibimbap vegetables on a bed of steamed rice. Steamed sweet potato noodles that hold form and flavor so nicely mingle on your plate with succulent mushrooms and sesame seeds. And there’s red pepper speckled throughout the magical fermented goodness of kimchi on the side. Crisp, vibrantly colored lettuce leaves open to whatever filling you want to pop into your mouth. Korean food is beautiful. [caption id="attachment_9555" align="alignleft" width="300"] Bibimbap ingredients[/caption] Tip: Keep like colored ingredients separate on a plate. Ex: Put carrots in between green zucchini and cucumbers [caption id="attachment_9557" align="alignleft" width="225"] Delicious “perilla” leaf in mint family we used for lettuce