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Imagine wandering through an ancient, exotic market in Marrakech, Morocco, taking in the aromas of a myriad of spices and the sights and sounds of textile merchants, carpet dealers and snake charmers. Then imagine ending your day in the kitchen of luxury villa Dar Ligama, where you will learn to cook a traditional Moroccan meal, and then enjoy your efforts in the company of fellow epicurians. (Price Per Person - $2395 Superior or $2595 Deluxe)


Or perhaps you would prefer steeping your senses in the many delights of Vietnam, a country influenced by the cultures of France, India and China, where you can learn to prepare the hottest cuisine to emerge from Asia. From the historic city of Hanoi, where you will stay in a world class hotel with its own cooking school, to a two day trip on a Vietnamese junk in Halong Bay, you will discover first hand the delights of the North. Then it’s on to Hoi An, a Unesco designated village, where you will learn to farm the Vietnamese way. Finally, you end your tour in Saigon, the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of the South.  (Price per person - $2395)

If these locales sound a bit too exotic for your taste, you might prefer to travel to France where you can choose to visit Bordeaux, Provence or the amazing City of Light, Paris. This culinary tour offers the unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the real life of everyday Paris. Venture inside the city as only locals know it, and go to local markets, cook in a private home, and dine with a French family or couple. Delight in the myriad  food and wines that this city is so famous for. (Price Per Person - $995)

All this and more is possible when you decide to mix cooking and travel by planning a cooking vacation. Trips like these have become all the rage and whether you want to book something on your own or use the services of a company that will manage your itinerary, if you love to cook and eat and travel, then this might just be the ticket for your next trip. 


One of the leading providers of such culinary vacations is a company called Epiculinary

( Founded over 12 years ago, this boutique enterprise can arrange the trip of your dreams, no matter your tastes or budgetary considerations. Most excursions vary in length from three to eight days and can accommodate two or more travelers. Everything is included in the price except airfare, tips and taxes. Locales include Peru, Italy, Greece, Morocco, France and Spain to name but a few. And if you prefer to remain within the borders of the United States, various regions such as California, New Mexico, Louisiana and Tennessee are included in their arsenal of destinations (Most trips range in price from $1,500 to upwards of $5,000 per person). 


Before choosing which vacation to embark upon here are a few suggested guidelines to follow - which include your budget, the type of accommodations you prefer, whether they be rustic, a sophisticated hotel or a resort, whether domestic or exotic, and your level of cooking expertise. All of the packages include tours, meals and free time to wander and explore on your own, as well as cooking lessons taught by premiere chefs of the region.


Of all the packages Epiculinary offers, I found the one to Apulia most intriguing. This region, which occupies the boot and spur on an Italian map, is little known to the American traveler and its cuisine is comprised of a healthy array of fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade pastas and cheeses as well as fresh seafood, local olive oils and wines. The accommodations for this week-long excursion are at a Masseria (Manor House), built in the 18th century, just a few kilometers from the sea, in the heart of the Apulian countryside. The trip includes includes six nights accommodations (double occupancy), six dinners and lunches, two outdoor cooking demonstrations and three practical cooking lessons as well as wine tastings and tickets for several excursions. 

What intrigues me most about this particular trip, besides the reasonable price, is the chance to visit a region which boasts a wealth of ancient architecture, beautiful vistas and artwork. And the itinerary, which is available on-line, suggests tours of several hillside towns as well as an excursion to a fish market where you will select fresh catches from the Adriatic sea and learn to prepare them in true Apulian style. (Price Per Person - $2,400  (January-April, November-December 21) or $2,695 (May, June, September and October)


Designed to make the inner chef in you feel right at home, you will be guided by knowledgeable and accommodating hosts, no matter what part of the world you choose to visit. And even if you are a novice in the kitchen and just want to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of a place you have always dreamed of going, you can be sure a cooking vacation will be packed with good food, good fun and good folks.


Check it out at! / Issue 117 - September 9959
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