These prices aren't peanuts, of course, but their cost is far less than the ones that dominated the pages of Gourmet. And if you can find an interesting program near you, you can drive or take the train, without needing your passport. Spending your days away from the computer, learning about new cuisines might just feel as relaxing as if you'd flown 12 hours to get there.
• Jack's Old South BBQ Unadilla, Georgia.
If you're going to learn how to barbecue, you'd do well to start at the home of 3-time world champion of Memphis in May, Myron Mixon. For around $800, spend a weekend simulating competition style barbecue cooking, starting with whole hog, ribs, brisket, chicken, and pork shoulder. JOS Cooking School
• Inn to Inn Cooking School Vacations Hudson Valley, NY
This midweek vacation is a great excuse for busy New Yorkers to take a few days off of work, and experience the beauty of the Hudson Valley. For $380, spend 3 days traveling to celebrated Inns, vineyards, and sights, learning at the hands of their chefs how to create some of their signature dishes, then enjoying your new education by preparing lunch together. Inn to Inn
• Thai Food and Travel Oakland, California.
For $600, spend six full days of hands-on learning led by master Thai chef Kasma Loha-unchit . She'll teach you traditional Thai cuisine -- not the westernized fare you'll find in restaurants-- including how to balance flavors, cook intuitively, and understand Thai ingredients and tools. Thai Beginning Intensive
• Gumbos New Orleans, Louisiana
For $795 per couple, you'll get 3 nights in a restored New Orleans guest house, 2 full days of hands on cooking classes for two people. So for almost the cost of the hotel, you get to enjoy Cajun and Creole cooking classes as well. We'd like to take a look at what the accomodations look like, because this sounds almost too good to be true. Gumbos
Related: A Cooking Vacation