Food & Drinks in Thailand

Thai food is known for being exotic and has a well earned reputation given the fact that it combines all fives tastes of spicy, sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Common ingredients used in most Thai cuisine include chilies, fish sauce, lemon grass, garlic, and lime juice. Due to the fact that Thailand is a coastal country, seafood is a main staple of the cuisine in many areas. Of course, the other more primary main staple is rice and almost every dish in Thailand is served with rice in some manner. Jasmine rice is the most popular type of rice included in nearly every dish.

The emphasis of Thai cuisine is balance as each dish is kept light but has strong aromatic components. Thai cuisine differs by region and is generally split into Northern, Southern, Central, and Northeastern, with each region influenced greatly by the neighboring border nations. For instance, southern curries contain a great deal of turmeric and coconut milk, which is influenced by Malaysia, while northern cuisine contains a great deal of lime juice, which is influenced by Laos.

Many Thai dishes are also Chinese in origin that were altered to meet the unique tastes of the people such as kuai-tiao rat na, which is fried rice noodles, chok which is rice porridge, and khao kha mu which is stewed pork rice. Thai also utilizes the Chinese way of stir-frying and deep-frying their dishes as well as the heavy dependence on soy and noodles.

It is common in Thailand for more dishes to be served during every meal than there are people, since rice is the dominant fixture and complementary dishes are then served as mixes or sides that can be mixed with the rice and shared by the entire table. In the past Thai food was eaten with the right hand as the left is considered unclean, but in modern times it is now eaten with silverware. It is interesting to note however that you will likely only find a spoon and fork at the table, as knives were not part of the westernization of serving.

Most Thai food is served with sauces and condiments on the side that can be added at will to produce the flavor that one desires out of the five tastes. Common sauces are sweet chilies, dried chili flakes, phrik nam pla (lime juice, fish sauce, and garlic), spicy chili paste, and siracha sauce. Throughout Thai diners you will also find sugar and salt on the table.

Sometimes depending on what dish you order you will also find cucumber, Thai peppers, and raw garlic served with the food as well as garnishes. Unlike Western restaurants where a meal is served in pieces, everything is served at once at a Thai dinner.