So you've always fantasized about taking cooking lessons from a famous French chef? Or rooting out truffles in Italy? The following is just a sampling of the types of gastronomic vacations available to culinary adventurers like you.
France Spend a week at a chateau in Burgundy or Provence, learning to cook summer truffles with rocket and purslane in between cheese tastings and market outings (www.lavarenne.com; 800-537-6486). Or stay at a medieval chateau in Provence, learning the regional specialties (www.lydiemarshall.com; 011-33475264531).
Italy If only Italy's truffles were as prolific as its cooking schools. Learn Tuscan cuisine at a Benedictine abbey (www.coltibuono.com; 011-390577744-81). Or delve into the intricacies of pasta making while staying in a 15th-century Florentine farmhouse (www.bugialli.com; 011-646-638-1099).
England At the exquisite Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Oxford, spend your day learning to make canapés. Your kids can dress in chef's whites and learn to make chocolate treats (www.manoir.com; 011-01844278881).
Mexico Instead of settling into a chateau or villa, Marilyn Tausend leads tours of Oaxaca, Yucatán, and other destinations, exploring markets, street food, and restaurants (www.marilyntausend.com; 011-253-851-7676).
Thailand Cooking need not be the main attraction during your vacation. The venerable Oriental Bangkok hosts a cooking school with daily or four-day courses of hands-on cooking classes (www.mandarinoriental.com/;800-526-6566).
Japan In Tokyo, author Elizabeth Andoh offers tastings-tofu, sea salt-and lessons in Japanese comfort foods or sushi (www.tasteofculture.com; 011-81-35-7165-751). United States Napa Valley's Greystone, the West Coast branch of The Culinary Institute of America, has a range of classes from one-hour walk-ins to weeklong tutorials (www.ciachef.edu/california; 800-888-7850).
Or combine a little cooking with a lot of cycling, golf, hiking, sailing, or barging with Epiculinary, which offers a range of programs in America andEurope (www.epiculinary.com; 888-380-9010).
Create Your Own
Of course, these are just the beginning. Several websites help you plan your own itinerary.
The Shaw Guides make it possible to search by date, location, or specialty cooking classes around the world (cookforfun.shawguides.com).
Gourmet On Tour covers Europe, Asia, Morocco, Australia, Britain, and the United States. It'll connect you with 80 culinary tours in 11 countries or custom-plan your own cooking vacation (www.gourmetontour.com; 800-504-9842).