The flavours of Siam: sampling the best of Thai cuisine

The flavours of Siam: sampling the best of Thai cuisine

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For the first time visitor, Thailand is a thunderbolt to the senses, with its food being an experience that has to be tasted to be believed. Most journeys through this sizzling country can be constellated by its cuisine, and from intricate vegetable carvings to deep-fried cockroaches, there are few destinations that offer such a diverse and authentic menu to diners.

Typically, though, Thai dishes are complex, vivid and considered, with sweet, hot, tart and bitter flavors all urged directly onto the palate at once to tussle it out for supremacy. Of its many temptations, the markets, including the restaurants and all-night noodle that collude to entice travelers, none should be denied on a flavor pilgrimage to this appetizing destination. With many top holiday companies like First Choice flying out to Thailand throughout the year, these culinary delights are now too hard to imagine tasting.

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Ordering street food can be a daunting undertaking, especially on the streets of Bangkok. If you don’t speak Thai, at least look up a few of the basics, you’ll find it’s the cheapest and most exciting way to dine in the city. Steaming open air curry stalls, pad thai stands and delicate dumplings are on hand to subdue tummy rumbles, while brisk and bustling markets peddle eccentric titbits. Be swept away by the allure of accomplished roast pork in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown, or scoop sticky rice in Sukhumvit 38. Be mindful that while snack stalls proliferate everywhere, Monday is street-cleaning day in Bangkok, so there are slightly fewer options. When buying street food, use common sense and good hygiene to avoid any sinister repercussions from your culinary forays.

One of the best ways to sample Thai cuisine and culture is a Khantoke dinner. These traditional gatherings involve a Thai dancing performance, accompanied by a colourful configuration of different dishes presented on a wooden tray. Typically sticky rice, fried chicken, curry, fresh vegetables, pork and noodles will be component meals, and the entertainment tends to incorporate a range of dances.

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Along with its many culinary triumphs, there are also a couple of dishes lost in translation, and in Thailand, visitors can do battle with a procession of offerings which may be somewhat unexpected or unwelcome. Bile, blood, skin, and beetles contend for revulsion; it seems no ingredient is considered too unappetizing to give a whirl in the constant quest for flavour.

So stick to the good, yummy stuff in Thailand- there’s plenty of it to go around.

/// Images by Sam Sherratt and Alpha, used under the Creative Commons license.