Food is a very important part of Thai life. Families, often large, regard eating together as an important part of the day. Dishes include rice and a number of side dishes; everything is shared as family members sit in a circle on a mat on the floor and often eat with their right hands. Spoons allow each family member to take from the side dishes.
Thailand is a large country with many regional behavioural differences and that is reflected in the cuisine and travellers on Thailand family holidays are likely to discover.
• Central Thailand where families may well sit at a table and rich families are likely to have waiters to serve food.
• North Thailand preserves the tradition of small bowls of sticky rice and shared dishes.
• In North East Thailand food comes on a large tray and includes a sticky rice container.
• South Thailand locals also sit on a mat and eat with their hands though things are changing; table, fork and spoon are increasingly common.
The main aim of Thai chefs is to create balance. If you go on a Thailand tour package you will enjoy the food. Thai cuisine has now spread across the globe and challenges Indian and Chinese for Asian predominance. Several of the popular Thai dishes have become just as popular elsewhere in the world. A CNN travel survey actually placed four Thai dishes in the world top ten; Tom Yam Goong (hot and sour soup), Pad Thai (stir fried rice noodle based), Som Tam (a salad) and Massaman Curry.
There are several difference taste senses; sour, sweet, spicy, salty and bitter. Detail is important and that includes colour and texture as well as flavour. The cuisine has been influenced over time by neighbours and the different ethnic tribes within the country. There Are highland regions that have produce much different from the lowlands and coastal areas. China, Laos and Myanmar have influenced the north while the Khmer of Cambodia have made an impact on the south. On a wider front, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia have each played a role in what is part of Thai cuisine today.
Fresh herbs and spices are important with pepper, garlic, lemon grass, shrimp paste, chilies, fish sauce and lime important in creating the flavours. Pork and chicken are probably the commonest meats but beef, duck and water buffalo are also used. Fish and seafood are freshest in the coastal regions though freshwater sardines from the rivers are commonly eaten with rice in dishes eaten by ordinary people. Rice and noodles are essential in Thai cuisine. There are different varieties of rice and noodles made from rice, wheat or bean flour. Think soy sauce, a great range of vegetables and fruit and you have everything you need to make great food. Restaurants will be booked within Thailand travel packages but one of the delights of South East Asia is street food. Busy stalls serve only the freshest food; their turnover guarantees that. Travelling on Indochina tour packages allows tourists to sample plenty of street food and in Thailand the favourite dishes will be there by the road, often close to local markets.
When it comes to drink, Thais have a range of interesting beverages. Iced tea and black coffee are common as well as young coconut juice drunk from the shell. Krating Daeng is the forerunner of Red Bull and rice wine is common in the Isan Region. There is plenty of beer, Singha and Chang being the main two brands and locally distilled whisky which is cheaper than the imported spirits.
Thailand travel is a delight and the cuisine certainly enriches it.