What is Thai Food – Beginners Start Here!

What is Thai Food Exactly?

It may seem like an obvious question for most people but it’s easy to forget that Thailand is a small country in South East Asia. Not everyone has heard about it or their cuisine. So what is Thai food? Quite simply, the food that is eaten in the country of Thailand. The Thai food that you see in western restaurants is mostly from central Thailand. Different parts of Thailand have different cuisines.

The North East of Thailand, know as Isaan is famous for Isaan food which is different from northern Thai food and southern Thai food.

Generally, most meals in Thailand, such as stir fries and curries, are eaten with jasmine rice. Just like in other countries in Asia, most meals in Thailand are based around rice.

Bag of Rice - The Most Common Thai Food

Is Thai Food Healthy?

Thai food is so diverse and covers so many different things. In general though, is Thai Food healthy? No, it’s not particularly healthy or unhealthy. Just like cuisines from any country there are good and bad points.

In general, most Thai food contains sugar. This is definitely not healthy. Also many things are deep fried.

On the other hand there are lots of Thai vegetable soups which contain hardly any calories at all. Also Thai food contains lots of healthy nutritious herbs and spices like galangal, Thai holy basil, turmeric and lemongrass.

Coconut milk is often used in Thai food, especially in curries and soups. The health benefits of coconut milk are widely recognized.

So basically it’s going to depend on what types of food you choose to eat. You can certainly eat very healthily in Thailand, if you want to!

Healthy or Unhealthy – The Choice is Yours

The Basics of Eating Thai Food – Sharing!

Eating Thai Food

Unlike western food, Thai food, on the whole, is made to be shared. Everything on the table is supposed to be eaten with rice. In fact it’s safe to say that rice is the single most important component of the meal.

Generally, each person will have their own plate of rice which is accompanied with several shared dishes which often include a curry, a fish dish, a stir-fry, salad, soup and vegetables.

All the food is served at once so there are no starters. Soups come in a large bowl and are eaten with the meal, not before it. The flavours of each dish are stronger than what you would expect because their made to be eaten with rice.

It always amuses me when I go to a Thai restaurant in England and see someone order a Tom Yam soup as a starter and then try and eat it like a normal soup!! It’s an incredibly spicy and sour soup and is intended to be spooned over the rice and then eaten with it, not on it’s own!!

When in Thailand…

Thai Spoon and Fork

In Thailand, Thai food is not necessarily eaten piping hot. In fact it’s safe to say that it’s often eaten stone cold! Because of the hot climate Thais generally aren’t bothered if the temperature of their food is cold.

In Thailand it’s common for Thai people to eat with a spoon and fork. The fork is used to push the food onto the spoon or to pick up pieces of meat or sliced fruit. As most Thai dishes are prepared so that all the pieces of food are already cut up, there is little use for a knife.

Unlike in China, chopsticks are only used with noodles. Sticky rice is often eaten by hand depending on what it’s accompanied by.

When eating in Thailand there are a few areas of subtle etiquette to be observed. Platters of food are generally left on the table and are not passed around. If you can’t reach, someone on the other side of the table will always be happy to spoon things onto your plate.

When in Thailand, you will often find that there are no serving spoons with the shared dishes and instead, everyone is expected to use their own spoon to place the food on to their own plate. If this is the case, make sure there is no rice on your spoon when you go to help yourself a main dish. If you leave a grain of rice from your spoon floating in the curry which everyone is eating you will have committed the biggest faux pas of all!

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