By: Devyn Kerr and Katherine Schwei
Food has always been important part of Thai history and culture. There are five basic flavors Thai cuisine balances which include sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, and salty. Rice is eaten at least once a day, preferably twice in order for Thais to feel that they are normal. There are also a variety of fruits found throughout Thailand, some which are different than found in America. When we came to Thailand experiencing these new variety of foods and type of foods was really Interesting and at times a little nerve wracking to y new things. We didn’t always know every ingredient in the dish so it made trying something an adventure. For Devyn and those with dietary and allergies there were some more challenges but everyone we came across seemed to be ale to accommodate everyone even weird allergies such as onions.
There are over 20 varieties of bananas. Other fruits found year-round are coconuts, jackfruit, guava, lime, kaffiflime, tamarind, mandarin orange, papaya, watermelon, and pineapple. Though mostly eaten fresh these are sometimes dipped in salt, sugar or deep fried. Also there are a variety of soups. The fruits were really delightful to try and one of our favorite was sticky rice and mangos with coconut milk over it. Also the fruit was always fresh especially the pineapple, mangos, and coconuts.
Thai soups fall into who categories: Tom Yam, and Kaeng Jeut each having different seasonings. The first is always used with seafood and often translated into “hot and sour Thai soup” in English. Kaffir lime peel and lime juice is used to give its tang. There are also a variety of herbs and spices.
Fish sauce is used like salt in America. Chilies of many types, red and green are often used to spice dishes up. The soups that we got to enjoy we both hot, sweet, and spicy. Each were different and had their own touch whether Ethan being adding shrimp, fish, chicken, tofu, or just a variety of seasonings. We also got to learn to make papaya salad and it was really cool to learn how it is made and used to balanced all of the sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and bitter.
There is no “proper” time as day to drink alcohol however, women are much more discreet then men in their drinking habits and any festival, wedding or funeral gives an exceptional opportunity to drink. Though, no drinking is permitted in wats or inside shrine buildings. Finally during the months of late July to October many Thai Buddhists give up drinking temporarily as a show of Buddhist faith. Of course, not all drinks are alcoholic and the fruit smoothies and Thai iced teas were amazing. They also make good coffee, and mocha frappes were our favorite. It beats Starbucks.
In conclusion, food and drink makes an important impact and finds its way into nearly every aspect of Thai culture and life in nearly every part of Thailand no matter what region one is located in there are a variety of local delights. We had the opportunity to try so much Thai cuisine and it seemed like every meal was a feast. It was amazing to try new things and learn more about what other parts of the world eat. It really is an adventure to try new foods and it is sad when some of our favorite fruits or veggies are not found or as good quality in America. Also we now have to learn to make Thai food because nothing is better than what we had here.