Thai Cuisine

Fusing Five Flavors
Here in Bangkok, Charlotte and I will be enjoying a vegetarian, totally turkey-less Thanksgiving dinner tonight. We’ve decided to eat at our usual street food restaurant on Silom Road where food is always ambrosial and service is brisk.

I read that of all the world’s food cultures, Thai cuisine is considered one of the five healthiest. Mexican, Korean, Japanese, and Greek food was the other four listed countries. I’ve not had much Korean food aside from the occasional Korean BBQ and Kimchi, but the others are long-running favs.

Thai cuisine’s wide variety, both regional specialties and national classics, is famously rich and flavorful. It also has the added benefit of being made from a lot of anti-inflammatory ingredients, including ginger. As someone with arthritis, I’m always keen on eating foodstuff that at least doesn’t exacerbate my illness.

Though I’ve taken 3 or 4 hour-long cooking classes in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Koh Samui, I still know next to nothing about Thai food. Like most “Farang”, I tend to play it safe and eat variants of some of the country’s classic albeit less adventurous dishes, including, Tom Yum, Tom Kha, Massaman, Khao Pad, Panang Curry, and, of course, Pad Thai. I certainly should be more courageous than I am, but I don’t really feel like I’m suffering much from just eating the aforementioned courses.

I have a vivid and significant memory of what one of the cooking class chefs said to me. He pointed out that Thai food is often misconstrued for being ferociously spicy and that it’s instead about marrying the country’s five flavors: salt, sweet, sour, spicy, and creaminess. Though coconut milk is ubiquitous, primarily used as a sweetening thickener and texturizer, Thai food doesn’t typically contain any dairy products.

The above was captured at an open-air market just five minutes from where these words were typed.

To my American readers, wherever you may be, Happy Thanksgiving!