Here’s an important question I ask all of my first dates, cold callers, and complete strangers: If you could only eat one ethnicity of food (from one country) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The answers are varied, as there are so many kinds of incredible cuisine around the world. One of my favorites is Mexican, but Italian would never get old. Of course, I adore Japanese food, but, when it comes down to it, I’d have a hard time saying “no” to Thai food for the rest of my life.
Yes, Thai food is that good. In fact, I’ve lived in Southeast Asia for the last five years, although in the good-and-healthy-food-deprived nation of the Philippines. So, I actually travel to Thailand at least twice a year JUST to get my fix of clean and healthy grub (although my friends there are under the illusion that I’m visiting them).
And just about every traveler to Asia has Thailand on their bucket list, as Bangkok’s airport has the second most tourists in the world every year behind only Paris, France.
In that spirit, here are 20 fun things you should know about Thai food:
When I mention Thai food, the first thing you may think of is hot and spicy! In fact, cuisine from Thailand uses hot peppers and is some of the spiciest in the entire world. I actually can’t even stomach “medium-spicy” food by local standards in Thailand! Don’t worry if you’re not used to it – you can always order your food ” nitnoy spicey” (a little), and they know not to load up food served to farang (foreigners).
While you’ll find a bunch of bakeries now in Thailand and bread, rolls, muffins, etc. in coffee shops, traditional Thai food has no baking at all, and very few grains or carbs outside of rice and noodles.
Instead of baking, most Thai food is stir-fried, deep-fried, or grilled.
Just about every city or even town in the U.S and Europe now has at least one Thai restaurants! In fact, Thai is so popular that two particular dishes are known around the globe: Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong.
Pad Thai is a stir-fried noodle dish with veggies and chicken, pork, or shrimp added, and Tom Yum Goong is a spicy and sour shrimp soup.
Believe it or not, chopsticks aren’t commonly used by Thai people (that’s a Chinese and Japanese tradition). Instead, Thai food is eaten with a fork and spoon. But knives are usually not at the table as food is typically served already cut up and mixed in the dish, or soft enough to split with a spoon.
To go with all of your delicious (and spicy!) food, beer is also very popular at meals or just in daily life. With the extreme heat in Thailand, it’s also a great way to cool down, as they commonly serve in the tropics way – in a glass over ice. (It’s great when it’s so hot out, trust me!).
Thailand also has its own amazing national beers like Chang, Leo, and Tiger for you to try.
Like much of southeast Asian, rice is a life-giving staple and even considered somewhat sacred in Thai culture. To waste rice or throw out rice is considered wasteful or even rude!
Hungry for more Thai food? Look for part two of this series!