A Must Read Guide to Eating Thai Food
By Nick Page
Although popularly considered as a single cuisine, Thai food is actually better depicted as four regional cuisines relating to the four main regions of the country: Northern, North-eastern, Central and Southern. For instance Southern curries have a tendency to contain coconut milk and fresh turmeric, while north-eastern dishes often incorporate fresh lime juice. Thai cuisine has been influenced by Chinese stir fry and Indian curries while maintaining a unique taste of its own. Like Vietnamese food, Thai food is known for its enthusiastic use of fresh (rather than dried) herbs and spices as well as fish sauce.
A few tips when dining with Thais include...
Don't wait for all of the food to be served before you start, Thai meals are leisurely affairs and the food just keeps on coming.
Don't use your fork to put food in your mouth, use it to push your food onto your spoon.
Never order one dish that you aim to eat by yourself Thai meals are always communal, allow other to tuck in.
Pay the bill if it comes to you; in Thai society the person who is apparently the richest pays. As a foreigner nine times out of ten this will be you! It is not common to "split the bill".
But by the same token don't try to donate if someone else is paying the bill, it takes away from their status and is considered a "loss of face".
Never leave your chopsticks in the bowl, it denotes death and is very bad luck!
If you are travelling to Thailand and have read this and decided it might be easier not to bother to join a group of Thai people for dinner, please do, you will find Thai people to be kind hearted and generous. Explain that you are unfamiliar with their culture and they will not take offense at any faux par.....in fact if you explain the situation they will most likely ignore or make a joke of any mistake and no offence will be taken!
Nick Page is the Managing Director of Oasis Travel http://www.oasistravel.com.au, a specialist boutique tailor-made travel company that has organised many trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia. Oasis Travel organise bespoke travel itineraries to Southeast Asia that reflect client interests and the local heritage and culture of the featured destinations. This in depth knowledge coupled with a handpicked selection of modern chic, historic, boutique and eco-friendly accommodation make Oasis Travel one of the leaders in their field.