Inle Lake Heritage: Cooking with cats

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Disclaimer: No cats were harmed in the writing of this blog.

Inle Lake

Despite rising tourist numbers, Burma (Myanmar) still has a sense of being unspoiled and traditional. After all, a fisherman scooping the water with a conical net whilst improbably balancing on one leg is one of Burma’s most enduring images (“just how does he do that?!”)

With daily life barely changing in recent years – along with picturesque floating gardens, plentiful wildlife, and stilted villages – longboat journeys on Inle Lake have a starring role in many itineraries. While an influx of visitors can spell the end of the very things that make an area special, not-for-profit group, Inle Heritage are busy working to preserve the culture in amongst this burgeoning tourism. Socially responsible activities such as craft workshops and cookery courses celebrate local traditions and benefit those living on the lake.

Inle Heritage cookery course

Keen cooks and hungry folk can support these local efforts on Inle Heritage’s cookery course. Learn local tips and tricks to master native recipes, well-honed over the past few centuries. Shan-style cuisine is some of the most popular in the country, so doing good and having fun has never been more delicious! Brandishing a souvenir whilst flicking through your travel snaps may offer some comfort to those at home, but a taste of Myanmar is sure to ease the pain.

Before the class you’ll do as the Inthar do, sourcing ingredients from the local market and the veg patch; some produce can only found here, so a bit of improvisation might be in order when you get home. Don’t worry, you won’t need to take to the lake with your best one-legged rowing techniques for a fish supper. Although, I’m sure that can be arranged…

Burmese cats

“So where do cats come in?” I hear you cry. Fear not, our feline friends are not a local delicacy.

Inle Heritage is also home to 37 pure-breed Burmese cats. These kitties were considered royal pets in times gone by, and were a protected species up until the early 20th century. But after the country’s colonial period and World War II, these pure breeds became rarer. During this dark time, a few ended up in the hands of breeders in the UK and America – a blessing in a round about way. Inle Heritage were able to reintroduce seven (well-travelled) Burmese cats to the country. With no shortage of admirers, they have become royalty again, even becoming rulers of their very own island.


If cookery (and cats) sound like a purrrfect way to spend a day, take a look at our Inle Lake Cookery Class. Real foodies can sample just about every dish – from street food to Shan cuisine – on our Flavours of Myanmar Fully Tailored Journey.

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