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Thailand and Laos (and Myanmar if I can manage it)

Hello, Sawatdee kaa and Sabai dee,

My next trip will be Thailand and Laos, and this is all about the before, the trip and the after - similar to my Malaysia/Cambodia blog. I am putting together from start to finish - tickets, do's and don'ts, tours, where to stay, places to see, things to do, as well as useful extras like transport, good places to eat, what to wear, climate, tourist traps, tricks and tips and whatever else I can think of that will be useful.

If you have any tips or advice, please, feel free to leave a comment and add your bit - whatever you think may be helpful or interesting.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

26. Food in Thailand

Thai Cuisine
It helps if you know what type of food to expect when travelling overseas to a country for the first time. Dishes from Asian countries are far different to dishes from Australia, or indeed other western countries. And "Asian" dishes in Australia often bear little resemblance to Asian dishes in Asian countries.
When I was in Cambodia, I ate the most delicious Thai food at the guesthouse where I was staying, and the Chinese food I had in Malaysia was wonderful. Coming back to Australia, I have to say the Thai and Chinese meals I've had here are "Western" Chinese/Thai foods. Believe me, they are definitely not the same thing!

Rice - khao, is the staple food in Thailand. In southern and central Thailand, many people eat khao jao (plain rice) with every meal, while people in the north and northeast eat khao nieow (sticky rice) with their hands, sort of what we'd call finger food. The sticky rice is rolled into a small ball then dipped into different sauces. What we would call a main dish or side dish is called gap khao (with rice), so everything is "with rice".

The Four Tastes
There are four main tastes in Thai dishes - hot (spicy), sour, sweet, and salty and it is the combination of these tastes that gives Thai food its delicious flavour.

What if you don't eat spicy foods?
If you don't like spicy food, ask "Phet mai" which means is it spicy?
Chan au mai phet na ka means I don't want spicy please. "Mai phet" translates as not spicy. Mai sai prik means do not put in chillies. If you do happen to bite something that is too hot eating either plain rice or noodles will help as they soak up the spicy oil. Don't make the mistake of drinking water - it only spreads the oil around your mouth and you still feel like you have a volcano sitting there.

I wish I'd known this before, when I'd gone out with friends to an Indian restaurant and ordered what I was told was the mildest dish and not hot at all. Hah! We live and learn eh?☺

Popular dishes
Neua phat bai ka prao ~ Beef, stir-fried with vegetables and Thai basil.
Phat tai (Pronounced "pat tai") ~ Fried noodles with bean sprouts, peanuts, and lime juice, usually not spicy.
Gai phat met ma-muang ~ Chicken, stir-fried with vegetables and cashews.
Khao naa pet ~ Rice with roast duck, non-spicy normally found in shops with roasted duck in window display.
Khao phat ~ Fried rice, usually not spicy.
Kuoi tiaw ~ Chinese noodles, served as soup (kuoi tiaw naam) or dry (kuoi tiaw hang).
Plaa thawd ~ Savoury deep-fried fish, often whole, tilapia or catfish.
Phat pak lai yang ~ Stir-fried vegetables.
Raat naa taleh ~ Wide noodles (raat naa) with a selection of shrimp, squid etc in a light gravy. Not spicy.
Som tam ~ Green papaya salad with hot chilis, lime, tomatoes, peanuts, and a special sauce and a specialty of Isaan, in northeast Thailand.

And something to drink
Cha yen ~ Thai iced tea made with black tea, ice, and condensed milk. It is often served in a plastic bag with a straw for you to carry away.

1 comment:

billgorman said...

Really nice - simple but elegant - this was a work of love.

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