10 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THAI FOOD
If you’ve ever read the Simply Asia menu from cover to cover, you’ll know that Thailand’s food culture offers a wonderful variety of flavours and cooking styles – from rich, spicy soups and curries to clean, fresh salads and everything else in-between.
1. No baked food, thanks!
You will have a hard time finding baked food in Thailand. Thai people almost never use an oven, but they love to stir-fry, deep fry and grill their food.
The only traditional bakeries are in the Thai Chinese areas and they mainly sell Chinese bread and filled buns. You will also find Western bakeries here and there because of the high demand from tourists. If you want to enjoy the real Thai experience, though, and get your taste buds used to Thai flavors, stick to traditionally-cooked food, you won’t regret it.
2. Beer On the Rocks
Something that might sound unthinkable to many is the delight of a lot of Thai people. It is common to find Thai people sitting in a restaurant, sipping their beer with ice in it. It is just a way to fight the brutal heat of Thailand’s daytime.
It is common to drink Chang, Leo, or Tiger on the rocks, and many foreigners start liking this new method to drink beer. Not only does the ice keep the beer cool but it also waters it down slightly, meaning you won’t get too drunk too quickly.
3.Sugar is widely used
Thai cuisine likes to combine different flavors: spicy, sour, salty, and, last but not least, sweet. Many dishes, also those you wouldn’t expect, have sugar in them. From Pad Thai to green papaya salad, it is pretty common to add a couple of spoonfuls of sugar during the preparation.You can ask for the sweetness to be tweaked to suit your preferences and if you don’t want your food to be too sweet, just say ‘waan noi’, which means slightly sweet.
4.(Almost) No chopsticks
This might be a surprise to many, but Thai people don’t use chopsticks to eat Thai food. Chopsticks are used only to eat noodles, and never to eat rice. Thai people use a fork and a spoon. This is how it’s done: Use the fork to push the food on the spoon, and then use that to eat your food. The fork is used only for items not eaten with rice (chunks of fruit, for example).
Food comes to the table already cut into bite-size pieces, and there are no knives on the table. If a dish includes glutinous sticky rice (usually served in a small basket), eat it using your right hand. Compress a small ball of rice with your fingers and use it to eat sauces and the like.
5. A meal needs the right balance of flavours
One of the best things about Thai food is the careful juxtaposition of aromas and ingredients in their dishes. There are four prominent flavours in Thai cooking: spicy, sour, sweet and salty.
During meals dishes are carefully selected to make sure there is enough of each to equalise all of these different vibrant palate parameters. Thai eating etiquette dictates that you should eat slowly which allows for more time to truly savour each bite.
6. Desserts aren’t served cold
Unlike desserts in the West, traditional Thai sweet treats (khanom waan) aren’t served cold, unless it’s coconut ice cream. This is because until fairly recently, most people didn’t have refrigerators and, even if they did, electricity wasn’t cheap in Thailand.
7.Fruit is everywhere
Thailand is located in a tropical climate which makes it a fertile ground for a large array of exotic fruits, vegetables, and salads. You will notice that many of the dishes available will contain some variety of fruit or veg and that many street sellers will sell fresh fruit every single day. With such an abundance of sweet fruits available, it is very affordable and a staple for local people.
8.Chili is not in every dish
Spicy food is extremely easy to find, and one might think that it is impossible to avoid. This is of course no true. While a lot of dishes come with a good amount of spices, many others don’t. Spicy dishes are usually indicated on the menu, and most of the time the word ‘spicy’ is in the title itself. And the waiters always ask how spicy you prefer your food
9.Some dishes require experience
Thai food is everywhere, and everyone loves it. It is so omnipresent that a lot of people would know at least one dish for every part of the meal, and they could order from a menu without any help. This doesn’t mean that Thai cuisine ends here.
There are some dishes that are so strange that also Thai people think of them as an acquired taste:
- Larb Dib: a salad made with ground, raw beef. It often comes with a lot of blood.
- Som Tam Pla Ra: a variation of the beloved papaya salad with fermented and unpleasantly smelly fish or crab.
10.Food is shared
When eating out, or even eating in the home, Thai people tend to order (or make) enough dishes for every person present but will share all dishes with everybody. This is because in Thailand it is considered bad luck to eat alone. Every member of the group is able to tuck into every dish, which makes eating a sociable and communal experience.