11 July 2024

If you have just one meal in Thailand, curry and rice or Khao Gaeng should be the one to try. If you are into the real, traditional ways of Thai eating, that is. The meal is colourful with myriads of choices – all to be eaten with steamed rice. Enjoy!

 

Thai food is now amid a huge renaissance. In Bangkok and many key parts throughout the country, you will see new, aspiring chefs coming up with their fresh takes on their hometown munches. As wonderful as it sounds, here are a few things you might want to know about Thai cuisines.

 

Thai people are safeguard of their family’s recipes. It was not until maybe only a few decades or so that the secrets were out. It started as recipes printed in booklets intended as souvenirs in the funerals. In fact, there were no so-called ‘recipes,’ but things that were passed down from one generation to another. Children, in order to learn how to cook like their parents (given that the mother was the main cook of the house), would only need to hang around and be used around to do things. Peeling garlic, snapping morning glories, arranging a set of chilli paste, pounding it to a perfect consistency.

These are things that were taught only by doing. A lot of scolding (a sign of love and care back then) was also involved. And if you are a stranger, going to a house you know make great foods and ask for their recipes, zero would be your chance to get them. What you will get is their condemnation, albeit not spoken, but condemnation all the same.

 

This is why now we see a lot of young aspiring chefs, who may or may not have grown up in the kitchen run by such mothers, scrambling for a good way to make a perfect curry. A perfect bowl of chilli paste, a perfect bowl of Thai salad or ‘yum.’ They are also scrambling to seek for the right taste references. How one would know one cooks well if one does not taste well? Since Thai foods are all about experiencing, trying, making errors, being scolded at for no particular reasons, not everyone would like to learn back then. It was a hard way to learn. But now everything we used to take for granted has become a rare treasure, and everyone is looking for that holy grail.

 

For me, if I would have to recommend one single meal to my fellow eaters who are interested in tasting a real taste of my country, no matter what region, I would say go for a rice and curry stall. Choose the one that prepares their food well, with good selection, and appear to maintain some hygiene. I think the hygiene requires a bit of your sixth sense. Those cares for it, feels it.

 

Thai people eat rice and curry for breakfast and lunch, and perhaps early afternoon as their savoury afternoon tea, so to speak. It is a wonder how one shop can set up such a huge selection all at one time, but this has always been the way it is for decades. A couple of curries, a couple of spicy stir-fries, a couple of stir-fried vegetables, a selection of chilli pastes with all the trimmings, a bit of deep-fried dishes as they are neutral, going well with everything. A well-run rice and curry place can end up offering as much as 30-40 items or more per day, and those items usually change daily, and of course, by season as well. Talking about eating local, eating seasonal, eating fresh. This rice and curry is all of those.

 

In this video, we interviewed a shop owner (my all-time favourite person) who got all her recipes by working her way in the kitchen like old-timers would have done. Her mother, now 92, is, she says, the true creator and artist who create many tasty ensembles of dishes unique to her repertoire. To be able to find this kind of shop is like stumbling on a great gem. And I have been holding on tight to this treasure. And now I am sharing it with you. Bon appetit!

By : Ohhappybear