Thailand Food Essay

There’s no doubt that Thailand has great food. From northern to southern Thai dishes–everything I tried was delicious. But for those who are a bit less adventurous, like everywhere else in the world you can also find non-Thai food in Thailand.

You can maybe even find that food you’ve been craving…

That chain that you haven’t seen anywhere else in the Eastern hemisphere…

And of course, that chain you can find on almost every street corner… (Only here Ronald will be greeting you with a polite “wai”.)

But the real interesting part of Thai cuisine is their street food culture.

Every day we spent in Thailand we couldn’t walk more than a block without seeing someone selling food from a pushcart or a bicycle. Street food is totally different in Thailand than it is in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, etc. and it seems to play a much more important role in daily life.

Street food is such a big part of Thai culture, that I decided to do a photo essay on it.

Thai Street Food: A Photo Essay

Pushcart vendors would be selling anything from drinks to fried squids. The most commonly seen vendors were selling pancakes or fresh fruits.

An elderly lady pushes her vegetable cart quickly, in order to dodge the heavy traffic.

Selling freshly picked rambutan from the back of her truck.

As night falls more substantial vendors appear selling seafood and meats on skewers.

Before leaving Thailand we knew we had to give this street food thing a try. And seeing everyone with these delicious street pancakes made our choice on what to buy much easier. It was just a matter of picking out the right vendor.

Adding fresh Thai banana to the Nutella.

The finished product–which didn’t go unfinished for long! It was super delicious. Johnny equally enjoyed his mango with honey pancake as well.


What’s your favorite street food? 


Beth Leung

Thailand Foods

Thai food is widely known for being hot and spicy since almost all Thai food is cooked with basic ingredients such as garlic, chillies, limejuice, lemon grass and fresh coriander leaf and fermented fish sauce (nam pia) or shrimp paste (kapi) to make it salty.

Since rice is the staple food in Thailand, it is usually eaten at every meal with soups, curries, fried vegetables and nam phrik. Nam phrik is a hot sauce, prepared in a variety of ways and differs from region t oregion: nam phrik pla pon is a ground dried fish and chilli sauce, nam phrik pla raa is a fermented fish and chilli sauce, nam phrik kapi is a shrimp paste and chilli sauce, nam phrik oong is a minced pork, tomato and chilli sauce. In general, the basic ingredients of nam phrik include shrimp paste, garlic, chilli, fermented fish sauce and iemon juice.

Other common seasoning in Thai food include galingale (khaa), blackpapper, ground peanut, tamarind juice, ginger and coconut milk. As a result, it takes hours to prepare a proper Thai meal in the traditional way as it involves so much peeling and chopping and pounding so it needs time to prepare in advance.

In fact, Thai food varies from region to region, for example, glutinous or sticky rice is more popular in the North and Northeast than steamed rice. Moreover, in some rural areas, certain insects are also eaten e.g. crickets, silk worm larvae, red ant larvae. At the same time, Thai desserts are often made from sticky rice or coconut milk, flour, egg and coconut sugar while a variety of fruit is available all the year round.

Meanwhile, the basic characteristic taste of Thai food in different parts of the country can be described in different ways: in the central region, food is hot, salty, sweet and sour. Rice is served with different types of nam phrik and soups e.g. tom yam kung (prawn soup with lemon grass. Dishes usually contain a lot of condiments and spices. In the North, food is mild or hot, salty and sour, but never sweet. Sticky rice is served with boiled vegetables, nam phrik oong and soups or curries. The North is also well-known for its sausage called "naem" which consists of fermented minced pork. It has a sour flavour and is sold wrapped in cellophane and banana leaf.

Food in the Northeast is hot, salty and sour. Their favorite foods include papaya salad (som tam), sour chopped meat salad "koi", sour minced meat salad (lard) . People use a lot of condiments but not many spices. Their meals generally consists of sticky rice and nam phrik pla raa accompanid by a lot of vegetableas including those found growing wild. On the other hand, food in the South is renowned for being very hot, salty and sour-tasting. Curries are popular and made with a lot of spices and condiments. Khao yam (a mixture of rice) raw vegetables and fermented fish sauce or boo doo is also a common dish. Generally southern people eat little meat and other varieties of nam phrik are not so popular, the most common one is nam phrik kapi.

Though the major portion of Thai food is described as being spiced and chilli hot, it currently enjoys worldwide popularity especially the exotic Tom Yam Kung, a uniquely piquant prawn soup that is renowned for it simplicity, creativity, artistic flair and delicious taste. Above all, the tastes of Thai cuisines can be amended to suit individual desire, for example, by reducing the amount of chillies in certain dishes to lower the heat or increasing amount of lime juice to increase sourness. Visitors who have tried the exotic Thai food will never forget to order them again whenever their favorite dishes are available.

This story comes from "Essays on Thailand" by Thanapol Chadchaidee (1994, ISBN 974-834-824-5);  The book contains 60 essays about Thailand written in Thai and English.

link to purchase this book


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