Thailand is a small country in Southeast Asia, sharing a
peninsula with Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam and sits
between India and China, and its food is clearly influenced by
both India and China. Yet Thailand's food, like Thailand's
people, has maintained its own distinct identity.
The country of Thailand forms a crescent around the Gulf of Thailand
and has a vast array of rivers and canals. This gives the Thai an
abundance of water to irrigate rice paddies as well as lots of fish.
Plenty of fish, fish sauce and shrimp paste can be found in a lot of
Thai meals. The other distinct flavors of Thai cooking come from the
often ground, indigenous spices and produce: coconut milk, lemon grass,
tamarind, ginger, black pepper, galangal, garlic, cilantro, basil, palm
sugar, turmeric, cumin, shallots, green onions and chili.
Thai food is either stir-fried, steamed or sometimes grilled and as with
most Southeast Asia meals, a Thai meal has no courses. And like most
cooking of the region, the Thai meal is built around rice. Southern Thai
people eat long-grain rice, while the northerners favor short-grain or
'sticky' rice. Noodles, probably introduced from China, also play a role
in Thai cooking. curries and other hot dishes are eaten by the Thai as
sauces to compliment and flavoring the rice.
Meat is expensive across most of Asia due to limited grazing space so
meat dished use less meat than the average western dish. The meat is
often mixed with a sauce or stir fried through veggies to bulk up the
dish. A common misconception is that all Asians use chopsticks. In
Thailand the Thai people eat with a spoon and fork, in fact only the Vietnamese
use chopsticks in Southeast Asia.