The floating markets of Bangkok and the night market in Chiang Mai are two of Thailand’s most popular tourist attractions, and are centered around the cuisine that has made it to every corner of the earth.
Everyday dishes such as Pad Thai noodles and Tom Yung Goong (prawn soup with lemongrass) have become popular around the world both among the diaspora communities and the local populations, carving out Thai food’s place on the world food stage.
Thai food’s presence across the globe is even more remarkable when you consider that Thailand remains the only country in Southeast Asia that was not colonized by Europeans!
Royal Thai Cuisine
Royal Thai Cuisine serves up complex banquet food. Accoring to the Michelin guide, Royal Thai food must adhere to specific rules and at a very high standard. First, all ingredients used must be the best and freshest available. Second, all dishes must have bones, pits and stones removed. Third, all flavours must be perfectly balanced, without extremes in any particular direction, including spiciness.
It is suggested that Royal Thai food emerged as both a tool for diplomacy and as a product of the many national pallets that graced the halls of the royal court.
Presentation is also crucial when it comes to serving up food to the Thai royal court. You will see intricately carved vegetables among petals of many colours, with every piece of food on the table meeting the stringent standards of preferred size and shape.
Thailand is a big producer of rice which is a staple food for its Buddhist monks at the country’s many temples. Buddhists ritualistically consume rice in the form of rice porridge or congee as the usual morning meal.
Aside from its properties as a nourishing meal in and of itself, rice also has great importance in Buddhist scripture. It is said that a milkmaid, Sujata, upon giving Gautuma Buddha a sweetened bowl of rice cooked in milk, broke his 6-year asceticism, leading to his enlightenment and giving him the strength to go on and develop the Middle Path, develop jhana, and attain Bodhi, thereafter becoming known as Buddha.
One sutra (Buddhist scripture) states that “Sentient beings live in dependence on food.”
Mango sticky rice
Pilot’s Thai Recipes
Main image: Floating Market, Lin Mei, Flickr Creative Commons