Thai cuisine, wonder of Asia
The amazing diversity of its cuisine makes Thailand one of the most exciting countries in the world to visit. In its 20th edition, 24Life Magazine invites you to travel the kingdom through the savoury characteristics of each regions.
Thai cuisine is renowned for the strength of its flavours and this typical sense of harmony that brings everything together in a very specific refined way. While very unique as the Thai Culture is, Thai cuisine very successfully combines influences from East and West which have been integrated according to the local culture and way of life.
Centuries of trade between east and west combined with the regional geopolitics and itinerant nobility brought to Siam multifarious tastes, recipes and methods that have been caught and processed over time by local innovative culinary artists who nurtured this refined and harmonious cuisine as we know it today
Early Chinese settlers brought with them the now ubiquitous noodle, and also the practice of stir-frying and deep-frying. Prior to this Thai cooking usually involved the process of baking, stewing and grilling.
The cuisine could be said to have been bland when compared to the multifarious tastes we now see in Thailand, but the itinerant nobility in the 17th and 18th centuries brought back from their travels new ingredients and cooking styles.
Foreign traders and visitors to what was then known as Siam also helped to expand on the variations of dishes, notably the Portuguese who brought the almost ever-present chili pepper and the British and other European nations who brought a range of spices during the spice trade years.
Following the influx of new ingredients, we might say the table was set for Thai cuisine, and the innovative culinary artists of the country began creating some of the most eclectic and daring dishes the world has ever seen.
Following these influences of taste came changes in eating propriety in the 19th century. The Kings of Thailand, notably King Mongkut (Rama IV) and King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), brought back from European visits what could be called modernizing influences such as eating with cutlery rather than hands, and the use of furniture designed for the dining room.
Thais today eat mostly with a fork and spoon, a practical application given that most Thai dishes don’t require large pieces of meat to be cut. Traditionally chopsticks were only used by the Thai-Chinese, although today the use of these utensils is found mostly in small roadside restaurants selling variations of noodle dishes. Such noodle restaurants you will find in any corner of the nation, but each region of Thailand – the North, North-East, Central and South – cast its own spell on Thai cuisine.
It’s important to note that foreigners may only experience generic Thai food in restaurants dotted around touristic areas, but this is mainly Central Thai food.
Exploring local markets and small local eateries you will find more traditional dishes.
Read the entire fully illustrated cover story from 24Life Magazine on Issuu
Page 22-23: Thai cuisine, wonder of Asia
Page 24-25: Fruit of centuries of trade and travel
Page 26-27: Northern Thai food or Lanna cuisine
Page 28-29: Southern cuisine, the spiciest of all
Page 30-31: Central Thai food, the most common and accessible
Page 32-33: Issarn cuisine, spicy and pungent
Page 34: Thai cuisine and fusion cuisine
Page 35: Traditional Royal cuisine, elegance and sophistication
Page 36-37: Thai desserts, omnipresent tropical fruits