Do you know much about Thai cuisine & culture? Can you name a few things that are related to Thai cuisine & culture?
If you are not too savvy about it, then let me tell you a little story about my home country...
Thai cuisine is famous for the subtle blending of four basic tastes: sweet, sour, spicy and salty. These four basic tastes represent the corner stone of a large proportion of dishes. Such tastes prevail more or less depending on the many provinces cooking styles and availability of ingredients.
There is a myriad of such ingredients that may help to achieve these four basic tastes. Among those, the most common are either a combination of herbs or spices namely chili, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir leaves, basil(s) and fruits such as lime, lemon and papaya. More information about each herb and spice see "Ingredients Corner" please!
Thai people normally eat their meals with steamed plain rice. The best variety of steamed rice in the world is called "Jasmin Rice". It is a long grain rice that was originally cultivated in the province of Chachoengsao that is situated 150km to the East of Bangkok. Another rice specialty is the famous steamed sticky or glutinous rice. Most of the northerners and northeasterners eat their food with sticky rice. Thailand as you know is famous as a land of Jasmin Rice and it is also the world number 1 Jasmin Rice exporter.
Jasmin Rice Harvesting
You might have seen Jasmin rice grains look like, but do you know how they're cultivated, harvested and finally ended up in your plate and at last eaten by you...Lets see hah?
(stage 1: Preparing rice field) (stage 2: Pouling rice trees) (stage 3: Baby rice trees)
(stage 4: Matured rice trees) (stage 5: Planting matured rice trees) (stage 6: Growing stage)
(stage 7: Harvesting) (stage 8: Currying to the hitting field) (stage 9: Threshing)
(stage 10: Hulling) (stage 11: Cleaning) (stage 12: Complete cleaning)
(stage 13: Cooking) (stage 14: In your plate)
Thai Table Manners
Thai table manners are more practical and mostly aimed at civil communal eating. Many mannerisms go back to a previous era when meals were collectively shared; food was the most important gift and gratefully received. In Thailand all dishes are shared. For starters, if you dine with a group of Thais, you'll have little chance to order the bovine of your choice, for that important task is left up to the senior women in the group. A skilled host will ensure that all palates are catered for, ordering fish or seafood, pork, shrimp, chicken and several vegetarian dishes that encompass a full range of tastes. Spicy, sweet, salty and bitter will all be represented, often all in one dish.
There are no knives on the table. Well, this is because all the food has been diced before cooking, pretty smart? Traditionally, Thais ate with their hands, and in the rural areas or in some specialist restaurants this still occurs, especially when eating sticky rice and Isaan food. Nowadays they're far more refined and use a fork and spoon. If you travel to the north or northeast, you will often see the group of family or friends sit on the floor or on a flat mat and form a circle shape like while having their meal.
This is an old style of the Thai table manners. The Thais are quite romantic in some senses while having their meal the Man of the house would normally entertain the wife, children or friends by playing their local music intruments and sometimes everyone would sing along.
The serving tray -table in this picture is called "Khan Toke" , it can be made from wood " trek wood" or bamboo tree. if you travel to the north of Thailand like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai for example, you will see that in almost every household has this serving tray-table.
The second and third pictures are also a form of the Thai table manners, instead of using the "Khan Toke" above, people just sit on a flat mat and share their meal.
The Thailand architecture and way of life along the river and canals continues to remain true to Thailand’s beginnings. Floating markets are a colorful reminder of the days when farmers brought their produces to sell by boat early in the morning. In the countryside where life along the river does not exist, people normally go to their nearest local market or even the morning village market to get some food. They would go to the market early in the morning around 5 o’clock before the monks hit the first temple’s bell to remind the people of their day.
The Thais, after finishing their morning shopping activity, they would return home to prepare the breakfast for the whole family as well as for the Monks. The Monks normally come at 6 o’clock in the morning to collect their breakfast from the villagers. The monks’ activity of receiving some food is called; “Tack Baht”, they would carry their own “Bath” (the “Baht” means a food collecting bowl) and walk in a line of 5-6 monks or more on a village road and collect food from the awaiting villagers and once collecting enough food, the monks then return to the temple.