Every country have their own unique gastronomy culture. As food is the main support for our living, no one can survive without food. In this report,I would like to share about Thailand Gastronomy Culture though my research.
Thailand Gastronomy and Food Culture
Food involved a big part in Thailand culture. Thailand is divided into four distinct regions: The Northern Thailand, The North-Eastern Thailand, The Central Thailand and the Southern Thailand. In the daily life of Thai people, rice is their staple food and It differs through regions. For Central and Southern people, white rice is staple food for them and for north and north-east people, sticky rice can be recognized as a staple food for them.
History and Origin of Thai cuisine
The origin of Thai cuisine is originated from Southern Chinese Provinces since many decade ago. Thai cuisines are combined with eastern and western food.Thai cuisines are influenced by European cuisine since 17 century after contact with Portuguese and Dutch traders. (Khalak explorer). Even though their dishes are simple, they have unique combination of four tastes: sweet, sour, salty, spicy. Traditional Thai cooking style are stewing, baking and grilling. After migration of Chinese people into south east Asia, the cooking style become more improved and frying, stir-frying and deep-frying become popular cooking techniques. Thai cuisine is used to be spicier in the past. It’s some how interesting fact is chilies didn’t exist in Thai Cuisine until 16 Century. Chilies are introduced to Thailand by Portuguese . Starting from that time ,Thai people become used heavy spices and their cuisine become spicer and spicer. After many years lasted , the cooking style has changed and they used less of heavy spices but increased the fresh herbs like lemon grass and ginger.((Taste of Thailand, food tour)
Symbolism and development of cuisine within the region
Thailand is a big country and it is divided into four main divisions as The Northern Thailand, The North-Eastern Thailand, The Central Thailand and The Southern Thailand. Depending on the regional, the symbolism and taste of the cuisines are differed. All regions have their own different style of cooking, different background of influence and different ingredients. (Lynne Rossetto Kasper).
Thai Curries can be identified with color: green, red, yellow and orange. The spiciest dish is the green curry, after that is red curry. Yellow curry is the Thailand version of Indian curry and the orange curry is the mildest. Thai cuisine is differed from other South Asian countries. They mixed a lot of ingredients and vegetables. What make differ Thai cuisine from other countries? Most of the Asian Countries, meat cuisine and vegetables cuisine are made separately but in Thai Cuisine, even the meat cuisine come with a great amount of vegetables.
The Northern Thailand
The Northern Thailand, Chiangmai and regions are bordered by Myanmar. The Taste of the cuisines are generally milder than the rest of the country. Their Staple food is sticky rice and traditionally it is kneaded and cut into small bite with fingers. For eating sticky rice, they don’t use spoon and forks, they only use hand and this is the proper way to enjoy their staple food. Since Northern Thailand is bordered by Myanmar, it has a strong influence of Myanmar cuisine. One of the most popular dish is Kaeng hang-lair which is come from Burmese cuisine, Heavy Pork curry.
Pork belly are marinated with brunch of spices and cook with ginger, turmeric and tamarind and cook for hour. This cuisine is one of the iconic and must try dish when you go to Northern Thailand.(Khalak explorer) Another iconic cuisine is Khai Soi,coconut curry based noodle dish. When you travel to Chaingmai, this dish is well staple cuisine for tourists to try. You wo’nt be able to find any good khai soi outside of ChiangMai. It is made with a comforting coconut-based curry broth, egg noodles, chicken thighs (or beef) and is topped with crunchy fried noodles. Served with sliced shallots, chilies and lime for a refreshing taste. (Michelin guide Thailand,2019)
The North-Eastern Thailand
The North-Eastern Thailand,Isan and other provinces are bordered by Laos and Cambodia. This part of Thailand has a lot of river and fresh water sources, so the main ingredients of their cuisines is shrimp and fresh water fish.These are often fermented and used as a sauce for other dishes.The cuisine in this region are quite simple and spicy . They prefer sticky rice as their staple food. (Khalak explorer). There are so many famous cuisines in Isan:Laab (minced meat salad) ,Gaeng Naw mai (Bamboo shoot curry ),Som Tum (Papaya salad ), Sai Gork Isan (Isan Fermented Sausage) and Tom saep (Hot and sour soup). (Chis and Angela, 2018).
Som Tum is the perfect example of Thai cuisine, the way they combine sweet (sugar cane) ,salty (fish sauce) ,sour(lime juice) and spicy (chilies).Even it can be eaten on its own, the traditional way to eat is with sticky rice. Take some sticky rice with your fingers and then use it to pinch up the papaya salad.
For Som Tum , not only unripe papaya , but also corn , carrot or lotus stems can be used.Another One of the iconic Isan dish is minced pork salad which is called as Laab Mooand it is originated from Laos.This dish is made with stir-fried minced pork with shallots, coriander and mint leaves and seasoned with fish sauce and lime juice.Another traditional dish is Hor Mok ,steamed curry cake . It is traditionally made with fish, flavored with curry paste, coconut creams, chilies and warped with banana leaf and steamed it .(Allan Wilson)
The Central Thailand
The central Thailand is known as Bangkok , the center of the Thailand. This region has the taste between north and south part of the Thailand. The staple food is known as Fragrant Jasmine rice. The cuisine in this part is tend to be more refined dish and most of the Chinese dishes can be found. They have fusion of Thai dish with Chinese food.(Lynne Rosseetto Kasper). Pad Thai is one the the good example of fusion . Pad Thai is one of the Thailand Signature dishes. It is the combination of noodle, beansprouts, ground peanuts and stir-fried with egg. It is seasoned with sugar, fish sauce and squeezed of lime juice. Tom Yum Soup (Thai style Hot and Sour soup) is also one of the most famous Thai cuisine.It can stimulate your appetite when you are having your meals.This cuisine has a strong kick of flavor .It is combined with aromatic spices, fresh prawns ,oysters and mushrooms.There are two types of Tom Yum , one is clear soup and one is with coconut milk.(Heymeru)
The Southern Thailand
The taste of the southern Thailand cuisine tend to be very spicy and strong flavor.in this part of region, the cuisines are influenced by Neighbouring country like Malaysia and Indonesia.The staple food is like Central Thailand, Jasmine rice.(Lynne Rossetto Kasper). One of the most famous dishes is Gaeng som. It is a tamarind soured and spicy curry. It is made with fish, prawns or pork along with pineapple, bamboo shoots and papaya. (Kyle Hulme,2017)
Every country has their own food etiquette and cultural nuances.There is some few things to show your respect of Thai culture.When you are having meal with Thailand family , you should start your meal with a spoonful of plain rice on its own.By doing this , it can show the importance of rice in Thai culture.All of the dishes will be come at one and you need to share with other people that are dinning with you.You should only take a few spoonful from dishes and make sure to leave some food in dishes and also on your plate.This show the generosity of your host. (khao Lak explore). It is unacceptable in Thailand to leave rice on your plate to be thrown away . Because Thai people believe that ‘God of Rice’ who provides rice will be angry.(Emma ,2012)
Thailand is famous and synonymous with good food .Whenever people travel to Thailand ,They are satisfied with Thai good food.Thai cuisine has great international reputation. The Tourism Authority Of Thailand (TAT) announced that Tourism play a significant role in making Thailand Gastronomy more well known in the world.In Thai economy and gastronomy, agriculture is highly revolved. A lot of Thai dishes emphasis on nutritional ingredients with high value herbs and spices.
Gastronomy Tourism is really important in Thailand Economy. It can generate billions of dollars in revenue per year, according to UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) .When international tourists come to Thailand, they spend about 20 percent of their travel budgets just in food.TAT is closely involved with UNWTO and it becomes the first Asian Country which is the host country for 4th UNWTO Forum on Gastronomy Tourism. Thailand host events for the Smiling Thai Hospitality. (Tourism authority of Thailand newsroom,2019)
Food Tour and Signature Markets
Thailand is really famous for their food.They have so many types of food and drinks .Tourists can do so many interesting activities like having food tours .There are so many options to choose food tours . If you want to enjoy night life , you can choose Bangkok After Hour: Night Life Tour.
It is private tour with local guide. They have 8 local guide and you can choose your favorite.It will take 2.5 hour and cost you around $33 per person. In this tour , you can get experience of the city’s night life and guide will take you to have taste of local foods. You can taste 3 different street food and after 2 hour tour , you can go and enjoy more nightlife experience by yourself. Another famous food tour is Gordon Ramsay’s Favorite 10 Thai Tasting Tour.
This Tour will be around 3 hours and cost about $22 per person.In this tour, 8 delicious foods and 2 non alcoholic drinks with private guide will be included.The dishes will be as follows : Thai salad, Thai green curry, banana fritters, satay, Pad Thai, fish cake with sweet chili sauce, exotic local juice, mango sticky rice and fresh fruit as your dessert and goodbye drink.This tour is really famous among tourists and this is one of the interesting tours that you can only get experience in Thailand.(with local.com) .
Talad Ratchada Rodfai is also called as Train market.even though it is called as train market, no trains or railway in sight.This night market is filled with stalls selling streets food, handmade curios, knickknacks and clothes. There has a lot of bars and restaurants and you can have anything you want.You can browse through stalls and grab delicious food , fried insects, traditional Thai desserts and many more(Bangkok Food Tour ,2017)
Thailand Tourism Statistics (2019)
Tourism segment is one of the most important sectors for Thailand Economy.The number of tourists who come to Thailand is keep increasing and make a huge income for Thailand.According to Kasikorn Research center, the number of tourists who come to Thailand increase from 39.00 millions to 39.80 millions in 2019. For the percentage, it is up from 2.1 to 4.1 percentage.The income from tourism sector increased from 2.16 THB Trillions to 2.20 Trillions which is 6.9 percentage to 8.9 percentage increased .The majority of Tourists in 2019 , were Chinese Tourists and it is around 58.11 percentage for the whole tourism.
In this report, I did research about Thailand Gastronomy Culture and how it is orginated and differ from other country. It is interesting that each region has different taste and traditional style of cooking.