- Cultural Curry Pot
My impression of Thai food from restaurants in the UK was pretty naïve. For one, my geography is shocking so I didn’t realise how big Thailand was or how many countries it bordered. I would say there are actually 5 different cuisines within the country.
- Central Thai – Famous curries, Pad Thai, Stir Fried Holy Basil, Som Tam Thai.
- Isaan – Spicy food from the Northeast. Grilled meat, fresh vegetables, and very strong flavours. This is a lot like food from Laos, funky and vibrant.
- Chinese – There is a huge Chinese populace, with it has come many firm Thai favourites. Think chicken and rice, Egg noodles, and Char siu pork.
- Malay – The southern part of Thailand shares a border with Malaysia, therefore there is a huge muslim population in these parts. This has provided the famous Massaman curry, great hotpots, and Indian spices.
- Northern – Up in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai you might be given the chance to taste some of the local hill tribe cuisine. This is predominantly vegetarian with lots of vegetables which grow well in the cool northern climate. Great tomato dishes and excellent chilli dipping sauce.
- It’s not all spicy
Although Thai food has a reputation for being spicy, it is really only a few dishes that are explicitly so, and most can be modified to be less spicy just by asking. In fact, the best thing for chilli lovers and haters alike, is that every restaurant comes equipped with a four condiment pots of chilli, sugar, vinegar, and fish sauce. This way you decide how you like it.
- Traditionally it’s really healthy
The Isaan food from the northeast is traditionally some of the healthiest I have come across. Almost nothing is fried, fresh raw vegetables are served with everything, and there is plenty of fermented goodness. How it has been modernized has seen an increase in the amount of meat used and also the introduction of MSG has had an impact. Everywhere you go, food will be served alongside fresh herbs and vegetables, so take advantage of that.
- Some of it can kill you!
There is an Isaan dish that has been causing havoc amongst the livers of some rural communities for years. Goi Pla is a raw fish dish that uses riverfish, unfortunately these riverfish have little living creatures in them that if uncooked, worth their way through your body and pose an extremely high chance of giving you liver cancer.
- It is cheaper than chips
If you eat like a local, the average meal here is still about 35 baht, 70p, or $1. I feel like there would be national uproar if this rose too much. Nevertheless you may still get special prices just for being foreign.