Travel Bulletin

Thai food :a briefhisto­ry


It’s easy enough to claim sorcery as the main influence of Thai cuisine (how else can you explain your dependence on Friday nights at your local?), but it actually has its roots in China, many mainstay dishes such as khao kha moo (stewed pork with rice) and kuai-tiao rat na (noodles topped with thick sauce) first brought across by first the Hokkien people in the 15th century and then the Teochew people in the 18th century.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the food will be similar across the nation either; the cuisine is influenced heavily by neighbouri­ng countries so that typical dishes in mountainou­s northern Thailand go heavy on aromatic spices and share dishes with Laos, Cambodia and Burma. Southern Thailand (bordering Malaysia, yet also influenced by Indonesia) is the place to go for eye-watering spice as well as curries which use liberal amounts of coconut milk, and eastern Thailand is influenced by its Vietnamese neighbours. The average diner will be most familiar with dishes hailing from central Thailand – just think plenty of coconut milk and rice as far as the eye can see.

You didn’t come all this way to eat Pad Thai, did you? A gastronomi­cal journey from humble street stands to Michelin-star restaurant­s awaits for those ready to take the plunge. stalls with a long queue of locals waiting for a bite, order food at the busiest time of day when food isn’t likely to sit out in the heat, and watch that the vendor is handling and serving food in a sanitary way.

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