Thai people have always known that their nation’s dishes are tasty, distinctive and special; it has just taken the rest of the world a little longer to catch up. But the past two decades have seen Thai flavours explode onto the world’s culinary consciousness, and Thai food is loved for its blend of sweet, sour and salty dishes, fiery flavours and coconut creamy curries, and zesty sauces.
Explore the cuisine and culture more deeply and you’ll discover that the different regions of Thailand boast their own distinctive flavours and flare.
The Central Plains, Thailand’s rice bowl, are characterised by freshwater-fish recipes, sour soups and curries, while the tropical South with its Muslim traditions offers bountiful seafood and dishes enriched with coconut, cardamom and cumin. I-san of course, is influenced by Lao PDR., so here you’ll find hot papaya salads, cured and raw meat and simple, tasty soups, perfect for filling the bellies of the region’s hardworking farmers.
But it’s the food of Thailand’s North that attracts the most culinary converts. This region has long been influenced by Myanmar, China and Lao PDR., not to mention the kingdoms of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. And, as kingdoms have risen and fallen, they’ve all left their mark on Chiang Mai’s cuisine. The countryside and climate too have shaped the region’s food.
Cooler Northern climes mean hot chili is seldom used to disguise spoiled food – a more warming heat comes from galangal and peppers. Fewer palm trees in the region mean coconut dishes are traditionally rare while many Chiang Mai dishes have a distinctive bitter element, thanks to shoots and leaves collected in the local forests.
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