What is so special about Thai cuisine?
Having worked in Thailand, one of the irresistible joys of its scintillating culture is the food, among the healthiest you can eat in the world. Most people envisage Thai cuisine as hot and spicy, and sample it – or avoid it – for that reason. What separates Thai cuisine from any other style is its distinctive taste. Because they incorporate a specific – often indigenous – range of ingredients, the look – and aroma – of Thai meals is quite unique.
The origins of Thai food as recognised today stretch back hundreds of years. With Chinese migration constituting what is now Thailand’s earliest social development, it’s not surprising to learn that strong Chinese influences can be found in Thai cuisine.
It should be pointed out that the label of “Thai food” is too broad and general. There is a number of regional variations; for instance, Northeastern (Isan) dishes are much spicier than those from the Central region (encompassing the capital city of Bangkok) which are the items most likely to be found in Thai restaurants all over the world.
In the Southernmost provinces, approaching the Muslim territory of Malaysia, distinct Malay traditions of meals and food preparation are evident. Meanwhile, the hill-tribes of the Northern provinces make their own unique dishes.
Why waste time – and pile on pounds – with mundane Western fare such as burgers and fries or hot dogs (which are far from what real food is – and should be – all about) when you can live happily and healthily on Thai food?
Only real food can offer real flavours, and there is no mix of flavours more satisfying than real Thai food. Even today, traditional culinary practices as well as traditional ingredients are keenly observed. Ancient methods of food preparation supersede the modern emphasis on artificial preservatives, sweeteners and other additives.
Most Thai meals consist of meat dishes, but it’s not just about dry dishes. There is a rich tradition of preparing soups and sauces, which are lovingly crafted to enrich physical health. Every culinary culture – particularly across Asia – has its own tradition of curries and, in this regard, Thailand is no different – in fact, it is one of the leading exponents of curry-making. The mild or hot flavours of the various Thai curries stand apart from more familiar Indian curries. A common assortment of rice, noodle and salad dishes help make up the Thai Menu. For certain dishes, further additions of salt, sugar and/or spice can be applied by the diner, and usually are!
The health benefits of Thai food are of particular interest. Although it is harmful to pile on too much spice (as Thai people are wont to do) there is a high number of advantages in opting for Thai dishes in particular. Some of the herbs and spices found in Thai cooking – such as coriander, turmeric, lemongrass and fresh chillies – are especially useful for the immune system.
Other than the emphasis on fresh produce, straight from the market, there is very little oil used during the cooking process; more crucially, there is a complete absence of dairy products from Thai cooking!
From the finest restaurants, to the hawker food-stalls set on the side of busy roads, day or night, Thai food is versatile enough to be enjoyed absolutely anywhere. Variety is the spice of life, and in Thai cuisine, there are many exciting dishes to choose from.
The Thai people love their food: the spicier the better. Even If you request just a pinch of spice, you are most likely to get a taste sensation you will never forget!