Thai foods are becoming an international favourite. The variety of flavours caters to many tastes; bitter, sweet, salty, sour and spicy. Because the flavours of each Thai dish are derived mainly from fresh herbs, Thai food is mostly very healthy.
Eating in Thailand is a social affair; Thai people rarely eat alone. Usually, meals consist of several communal dishes which are placed in the centre of the table. Each person has their own plate of rice and they help themselves to small portions from each dish throughout the meal.
Exceptions to this include bowls of noodle soup (coit-tee-yao), fried noodles (rat-naa orpat-thai) and fried rice (khao-pat). These are usually eaten from individual servings. In many restaurants, individual portions of stir-fried food served on top of a plate of rice can also be ordered. This is called rat-khao, for example, stir fried vegetables with rice (pat pak roe-um rat-khao), crispy fried pork and spicy basil with rice (kra-pao moo-grob rat-khao)
Chopsticks or Spoons
Most of the country eats the famous Jasmine Rice (khao hom ma-lee) three times a day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a fragrant white rice which is usually steamed and eaten using a spoon and fork. In parts of the south, many Muslim families use their right hand to eat it.
In the north-eastern provinces, people usually eat Sticky Rice (khao niao). This is a unique variety of rice which is steamed in a bamboo basket until it is soft and slightly sticky. It is eaten by rolling it into balls and then dipping it into the accompanying dishes.
Noodle soup, which is usually served as individual portions, is generally eaten with chopsticks and a small spoon. A spoon and fork is used to eat fried noodles.
Few Thai people are vegetarian and almost every Thai dish uses fish sauce. Therefore, strict vegetarians should always tell the cook that they are vegetarian. The easiest way to do this is to request vegan food (a-han jay). It should be fairly easy to find specifically vegan (jay) restaurants in the larger towns and cities.
The annual two-week Vegetarian Festival takes place in the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, usually around the end of September and the beginning of October. It will be very easy to find vegan food throughout the country at this time as many Chinese-Thai people become temporarily vegan.