I always thought it was kind of interesting and creative and, best of all, delicious. I was wrong, according to the latest culture minister. He is Vira Rojpojchanarat, and his argument is that Thai food is unique, with recipes handed down for generations. That food is now under attack from "foreign influences" who are changing "the look and taste of certain dishes".
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They are a threat to authentic Thai cuisine. Ultimately, it could lead to the disappearance of some unique Thai foods. So worried is he about this, and so free is his appointment diary, he has found time to set up a special government committee to tackle the problem.
The committee's aim is to protect, on a national level, Thai cuisine and the country's food culture. One wonders if the committee is going to be armed or wear special uniforms as they implement this national crackdown. Will Section 44 be required? It is heartening to learn such committees exist in the Thai civil service. One wonders what the members would spend their time doing if it were not for examining the pros and cons of Thai barbecue chicken with fruit and wasabi. That was the accompanying photo to the news story, demonstrating the heinous extent to which foreigners take innocent Thai dishes, strip them of their condiments and wantonly ruin it with wasabi and fruit.
Thailand has one of the most exciting cuisines in the world, and really, to tamper with the tried and true recipes can be foolish. However we do need to corner Khun Vira -- in the nicest way possible -- sit him down somewhere quiet, order him a nice cup of traditional Thai tea, and have a little whisper to him.
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I would start by reminding him of a controversy that gripped the country 20 years ago. It began when the Lao government announced a cultural fair displaying all things Lao. There would be displays of traditional Lao dancing, beautiful Lao silk, and "wonderful opportunities to sample delicious traditional Lao food such as som tam , which has its origins in Laos".
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What did they just say? You couldn't kick Thailand between the legs any harder if you'd ask the country to spread its legs.
Som tam comes from Laos? That's like saying to an American: "Your apple pie is delicious, but you know it originates in Canada. The outrage was so loud it drowned out Sukhumvit Road traffic for days. The Thais were adamant.
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No, that's not the reason. They eat it for the same reason everybody does; it's the most delicious dish on earth. In other words, they're really easy and only require a few basic ingredients. Kao pad fried rice is just leftover rice tossed in a hot pan with garlic, onions, fish sauce, and a few slices of meat, and then topped with cilantro, cucumber slices, and a squeeze of lime juice. Unlike many Western restaurants, where you just order for yourself, eating Thai-style is a group thing.
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You order a bunch of dishes for the table to share. The concept of eating your meal in three courses -- appetizer, main course, and dessert -- is more of a Western thing. In Thailand, like other parts of Asia, dishes, for the most part, are served as they are cooked, and eaten together see above on getting balance with a bunch of dishes.
And khanom Thai desserts are more of a snack and only occasionally a meal closer. Lee, who went to school in Thailand, recalls carts teeming with khanom rolling around in the middle of the day. After a heavy meal, traditionally, they're more likely to give you fruits than sweets.
Share on Facebook Tweet this article Pin it Email. You eat it with chopsticks Listen people, the reason why chopsticks are in so many Thai restaurants is because Americans always ask for them.
Share on Facebook Pin it. Expecting everything to be blow-your-head-off spicy Alright, cowboy, we get that you're a tough guy for requesting your food "Thai spicy.
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