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Thailand - Food and Drink
Hygiene is a common concern for many tourists or expats visiting Thailand. It is important to be mindful where you eat, however, never let it turn into a paranoia that stops you from enjoying the best cuisine the Thais have to offer. As a rule of thumb, stay away from chilies or excessive amounts of fruits as you gradually grow into the local culture and cuisine. Other possible foods to avoid are locally sold shellfish, roadside salads, eggs, ice cream, or undercooked meat.
To be on the safe side, visit the food shacks with lots of customers on the queues; they definitely are doing something right. Most of the popular Thai dishes take a short time to prepare, so you can be sure you will not be served with leftovers. Recently, Thailand launched a nationwide sanitation project that encouraged restaurants and food stalls to practice proper hygiene while handling food for customers. So whenever you see a “Clean Food Good Taste” sign on an eatery, it is a safe zone.
Where can I enjoy authentic Thai cuisine?
Restaurants and Hotels
Thai restaurants and hotels open every day and have a comprehensive menu for both lunch and dinner. The most expensive restaurants in the city serve the royal cuisine from quality ingredients. How much you pay in these restaurants is determined by the complexity of preparing the meal, quality of ingredients used, and how the final meal is presented to you. Thais serve their food in small portions accompanied with fruit or vegetables to either garnish or decorate the main course. HAbout B500 is enough for a full meal.
The Night Market
The night market is where the culinary magic happens. It is safe to say that Thais enjoy their meals right after dusk and all the way until dawn. The night markets are always abuzz with food shacks, arranged sitting areas, and thronged with people waiting to be served. There is no better way to sample authentic Thai dishes than to visit a night market.
Night markets are decorated with mobile kitchens surrounded by stools and tables. These food carts sell common Thai snacks and condiments. It is the best place to sample sticky rice cakes, sweet corn pancakes, banana shakes, and freshly squeezed orange juices or tomato juices. You also have the curry shops, the vendors selling pork or chicken skewers, and vendors hawking deep fried insects or fruits. If you find yourself in a town by the sea, then expect to find plenty of seafood shacks at the night market.
How to eat Thai cuisine
Thais are quite friendly people and love to share and eat their meals communally. The food market shacks are manned by cooks and waiters who will take your order. Because food is served in small portions, it is possible to sample various dishes from different shacks. Thai cuisine focuses on five distinct tastes, namely sour, bitter, spicy, sweet, and salty. To get the most out of the food market, make sure you sample all these distinctive tastes in the food you order.
It is possible to get a taste of everything in just under ten minutes. Full course meals served are shared out communally with the person next to you. Everyone gets their own bowl of steamed rice or Khao, but then expect a tap on the shoulder from the next table offering you an aromatic bowl of Kung Pao chicken. Four diners can order up to five or six meals and will share it out with the next table and vice versa.
The Thais love their food seasoned, thus every table will be decorated with an array of sauces to compliment the main cause. Popular sauces served with food include chopped chilli with vinegar, flavored dried chilies with sugar, or a spicy bowl of a local condiment called Nam Jim. Other complementary foods served with meals include bowls of fermented fish sauce with coconut milk, galangal, lime juice, lemongrass or fresh coriander and basil.
Thai curry dishes
No main course is complete without a side serving of freshly made curry sauce. Thai curries are rich in garlic, spices, chilies and other herbs that bring out their flavorful taste. The curries are made with lots of coconut milk to bring out their authentic creamy look. Spend a night at the food market and you are likely to sample popular curries like Kaeng karii, Kaeng Matsaman, Kaeng Som, Kaeng Khiaw wan and Kaeng Phanaeng, to mention a few.
Curries differ from the soups in that they are consumed with the main course. You should not order a bowl of curry as a starter. For the soups, you will appreciate their distinctive taste of lemon grass, coconut milk, galangal or kaffir lime leaves. The Thais also have a starchy soup made from rice known as Khao tom. Soups are lighter and not as creamy as the curries.
Popular drinks in Thailand
After enjoying a sumptuous communal meal, the Thais do not mind a glass of wine or locally made beer. Locally brewed beers include Singha and Chang, though Chang is preferred because of its quality brewing. Whisky is sold in hip-flask bottles and the Thais love to dilute it with coke, ice, or soda. A signature whisky brand among the locals is Mekong. It may not taste like scotch but once you get over the rice taste, you will grow to love it
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