The cuisine of Thailand has become familiar to the Western world, but the way it is prepared and eaten is distinct.
First of all, Thai food has a reputation of being hot and spicy, but there is a contrast. Spicy food does not have to be hot. The hot nature of the food is related to the amount of chili pepper put into the dish. Many Thai dishes can be spicy, but not hot, if little or no chili is added.
Ideally, a Thai meal offers a combination of flavors - sweet, sour, salty, hot and bitter. A well-planned meal will provide a variety of dishes to balance these flavors and textures. There may be a soup or curry dish, a stir fry, salad, accompanying sauces or dips and rice. Rice, always present in a Thai meal, is considered a staple, not an accompaniment. The best type to use in Thai cooking is jasmine rice, which has a delicate fragrance. All of the dishes in the meal will be placed together on the table at the same time and eaten in no particular order.
The best way to enjoy Thai food is to have a number of people joining together so each dish can be shared. Diners at the table serve themselves only one or two mouthfuls of a dish at a time, allowing everyone to sample.A table setting consists of a spoon and fork. Unlike Western style, the spoon is used primarily, while the fork acts only as a helper to move food around on the plate. Use fork to help push a little meat, vegetables and rice onto the spoon, then drop the fork on the plate. A knife is almost never provided on a Thai table because meat in most dishes is cut into bite-sized pieces. Chopsticks are not a standard Thai utensil and not practical for rice dishes. They are normally only used when a Chinese-type noodle is served.
- Supote Methiyapun, owner, The Spice