Our Favorite Types Of Kuey Teow

Our Favorite Types Of Kuey Teow

Almost everyone who travels to Thailand ends up falling in love with Thai kuey teow, which is the term for the various types of noodle dishes available in Thailand. We've already written one article called Off The Path Travel's Guide To Kuey Teow, so for this one we are going to focus on some of our favorite kuey teow dishes that are available in various areas in Thailand.

Kuey Teow Tom Yam Nam Prik Pao Talay

This soup is a combination of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. The tom yam broth includes galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce, and chili paste. Included in the dish is nam prik pao, a tamarind and palm sugar based chili paste. Many of these types of dishes include minced pork and an assortment of seafood. Some shops choose to substitute the seafood for pork ribs, which is delicious as well!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Thai Food

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Thai Food

photo higlights 4

One of the reasons millions of people travel to Thailand each year is to eat the delicious food that the country is famous for. It’s our opinion that Thailand has some of the most amazing food on the planet; the variety of dishes and complexity of flavors makes it possible for a person to spend years in the country and still have the opportunity to try new dishes all the time. Because of this, there are a lot of things most people don’t know about Thai food.

Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about Thai food:

A lot of Thai food is actually Chinese food: That’s right, a lot of food that Thais eat on a daily basis originated in China. Some of our favorite dishes, like kao mu dang (red pork in sweet sauce) are actually Chinese. That being said, there are usually a few variations in the food. When it comes to to the Thai version, there is usually an option to put in a tangy chili sauce that isn't found in its Chinese counterpart.

Thai food didn’t become what it is today till the Portuguese brought over chili peppers from South America:Thai chilies are one of the most common ingredients in Thai food, but before the 1500s, Thais didn’t use them. Peppercorns were used to spice up food before that.

DSC_0055
DSC_0055

Thai food isn’t just sweet and spicy combinations: While many Thai dishes use coconut milk, chili peppers, and palm sugar to create flavor, a lot of amazing Thai dishes don’t have those flavors. If you travel to Northern Thailand, you’ll see a lot of food is based on using different herbs, vegetables, and peppercorns to create a distinctly different flavor than a typical Thai curry.

Most “every day” dishes aren’t even available in western Thai restaurants: At one of our favorite Thai restaurants in Chicago, there is a menu and a “Thai menu”. The regular menu has green and red curry, pad tai, and other typical dishes westerners like to order. The “Thai menu” has the dishes that most Thais would eat on a day to day basis and you have to ask specially for it. Dishes like pad krapow (stir-fried basil and chili), kuey teow (noodle soup), kao man gai (boiled chicken with a spicy sauce), or kao ka muu (braised pork leg, cabbage, and sweet and spicy sauce).

photo of the week
photo of the week

Street food isn’t very important to Thais: Even though most travelers to Thailand think that street food is almost always going to taste better than restaurant food, Thais just call it “food”. The only difference between a street food stall and a restaurant is that a lot of the time it’s probably cheaper for somebody to operate a street stall than it would be to pay rent in a building.

Interested in traveling to Thailand? Check out our various tours here!

Traveler Culture Vs. Local Culture: The Street Food Myth In Thailand

Traveler Culture Vs. Local Culture: The Street Food Myth In Thailand

street food rosalyn

When traveling to Thailand, many people have different tips to make an experience authentic and how to feel like a local during a trip. Obviously, the simplest advice a lot of the time is to do what the locals do. Sometimes travelers think that things tourist culture has romanticized and adopted is actually a big part of local culture. One of the biggest traveler tips is that if you want to feel like a local, eat street food.

photo courtesy of erica molina
photo courtesy of erica molina

The Bangkok Post wrote a very funny tongue in cheek article about different types of travelers to Thailand. In regards to travelers talking about the importance of street food, they say ‘Their to-do list always includes eating "street food", then bragging about eating street food, although to us Thais, it's just called "food".

In Thai, there isn’t a word for street food. To translate this idea, you would have to say the equivalent of ‘A shop that sells food on the side of the street’. In Thai, when you want to talk about getting a bite to eat, the importance is stressed on what food you want to eat, not where it is sold. If you want to eat kuey teow, or Thai noodle soup, you would call it rahn kuey teow, which just means a noodle shop. Kuey teow shops are owned as street stalls and restaurants. Since there is no difference between street food and most every day restaurants that people go to for a particular dish, where a person chooses to eat is usually based on convenience. While at the market, if a person is hungry and sees a stall, they’ll probably sit and eat at it. The fact that the place existed on the side of the street isn’t the determining factor for eating there. Other than that, they might choose one because it’s where they can get the best dish.

photo courtesy of shreyans
photo courtesy of shreyans

Travelers to Thailand like to romanticize street food and a big part of that is because it is a novelty. Street food culture in the States and many other western countries isn’t as present and developed. It’s fun to try different street food in Thailand, but having it as a main goal might actually stop you from experiencing a lot of great food just because it’s not a street stall. Instead of having a goal that stresses eating street food, I suggest talking to Thais and asking them which restaurants are popular with locals. Choose a restaurant by where you see the most locals eating.

Here are a list of different types of restaurants that exist both on the street or as their own shops.

Rahn (insert dish): Similarly to rahn kuey teow, there are going to be many shop that specialize in a certain dish. For example, a place that specializes in braised pork on rice would be called rahn kao ka mu, or a place that predominately sells fried chicken would be rahn gai tawt.

Rahn Ahaarn Tahm Sang:These are shops that sell a variety of different dishes that you can order. Usually, these would include more of the every day dishes people eat, such as paht krapow (stir fry with basil), paht prik kaeng (dry red curry), or som tom (spicy papaya salad).

photo courtesy of audrey_sel
photo courtesy of audrey_sel

Rahn kao tom:These restaurants specialize in serving different dishes accompanied with rice soup. Many of the dishes are different meats or vegetables that you can put in your bowl to make your own type of soup.

Rahn Kao Kaeng: These are shops that sells a bunch of premade curry dishes. Usually, you buy a plate of rice for 10 baht and each dish you add on to it is another 15 or 20 baht.

Interested traveling to Thailand and experiencing all the different types of food the country has to offer? Check out our various tours here.

Thai Ingredients You Should Know

Thai Ingredients You Should Know

galangal

Each time I purchase lemongrass at the local market in Chicago, the cashier asks me, “What is that?” Often, someone will ask me how it’s used. It’s occurred to me that many people love Thai food but can’t place where the flavors come from. Below are some ingredients you should know that will help demystify Thai cuisine.

lemongrass
lemongrass

Lemongrass: These long stalks, unsurprisingly, have a light, lemony flavor to them. As the fibers are quite tough, lemongrass is often steeped into dishes, such as tom yam soup, but is not ingested.  In curries, lemongrass is finely ground into the paste. 

kaffir
kaffir

Kaffir leaves: Kaffir limes are a green, bumpy fruit. Their rinds can be used in curry pastes, but the juice is generally regarded as too acidic for cooking applications. The strong leaves, however, are applied to many dishes. Like lemongrass, it is often infused into broths. A whole leaf is generally too tough to chew, but thin slices will often be used in dishes such as penang curry. 

Galangal: Ginger and galangal are relatives, but despite their similar appearances, they don’t taste much alike at all. Galangal has a slightly sweet, somewhat floral taste with a little bit of heat thrown in. It is used in curry pastes, as an infusion ingredient, and to help balance fishy dishes.

Coriander root: Everyone is familiar with coriander, as far as I’m concerned. What many don’t seem to know, however, is that the root of the plant is has a deeper, more intense flavor than the leaves. Thai cooks add coriander root to stocks and curry pastes to great results.

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Things You Need To Eat: Gaeng Gai Bama

Things You Need To Eat: Gaeng Gai Bama

kanomnoodles
kanomnoodles

Not long ago, I detailed the influence Burmese cuisine had on the exalted Thai Khao Soi. This got me to thinking of what other dishes were swayed by the flavors of Thailand’s Northwesterly neighbors. Researching Burmese food, I speculated mohinga to be the cousin of Thai kanom jeen. Though I’ve yet to find any information that wholly proves or discredits my theory, as it turns out, the rice noodles for the dish came directly from the Mon people. From there, I found out that the Mon left an indelible mark on Thai cuisine with their contribution of gabpi maawn (fermented fish paste) to the country’s already impressive list of funky flavorings. Interesting.

My mind went off in different directions for a while but kept coming back to the Mon. There is a Mon desert of bananas in coconut milk and I wondered if this is from where gluay buat chi was derived. Maybe The Thai dessert so many of us know and love isn’t indigenous to Thailand at all.

Soon enough I was attempting to dredge from the deepest recesses of my mind dishes eaten in Thailand that are entirely Burmese. This is no easy task for a man who has a painfully limited knowledge of Burmese cuisine. Immediately I thought of gaeng gai Bama (Burmese chicken curry). The modicum of pride one gleans from connecting one fishy, noodly curry to another was dashed to bits by the realization that the only dish I could think of being from Burma actually had the country’s name in it.

Perhaps I subconsciously made the connection that khao soi – the dish that sparked this whole tangent - and gaeng gai Bama utilize both red and yellow curry. Maybe I thought of gaeng gai Bama because of how delicious it is. Either way, I realized quickly that this was a delicacy you need to eat.

Gaeng gai Bama is a balancing act. Red curry paste brings spice to the dish while milk tempers the heat and adds sweetness; yellow curry offers a savory dimension as fried shallots lend an earthy one; crispy chicken skins shroud succulent meat and contrast the softness of simmered tomatoes; the saltiness of fish sauce subtly binds each element together. Served with rice, this dish makes a wonderful winter stew but can easily be eaten during the peak of summer.

I felt compelled to cook up a batch and, since I don’t think it’s particularly easy to find the dish outside of Thailand, figured I’d share the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
  • 1 3-pound chicken, butchered (skin on)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tomato cut into wedges

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pan and add ¾ of the butter and all of the shallot slices. Cook shallots until golden, then remove and set aside.
  2. Add remainder of butter into pan. When melted, add curry paste and curry powder. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the chicken. Cook until the chicken is caramelized on both sides (about five minutes). Add all ingredients except the shallots and bring to a boil. Simmer approximately 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Serve the curry with rice and top with the fried shallots.

Notes:

  • I’ve seen recipes where people have used coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. Give it a shot, if you like.
  • I’ve reduced or completely omitted the water portion of this recipe on a few occasions. It’s fantastic either way.

Want to experience Thai and Burmese-influence Thai food? Come on a tour!

Things You Need To Eat: Khao Soi

Things You Need To Eat: Khao Soi

One of the things that amazes me about Thailand is that no matter how much time I spend there, I never stop discovering new dishes. We’ve touched on how food plays an important part in Thai culture and how to navigate kuey teow, but I thought it might be fun to highlight some need-to-know dishes on a semi-regular basis. We'll nerd out on dishes everyone knows as well as ones everyone needs to. Today, we’ll take a look at khao soi.

Khao soi translates to “cut rice” and is one of the gems of Northern Thai cuisine. Its roots come from the Burmese dish ohn no khao swe and has a Laotian counterpart that is quite similar. In Thailand, khao soi is a thin curry that gets its distinct golden hue from a combination of red curry paste and yellow curry powder mixed into coconut milk. Unlike its Burmese cousin which features wheat noodles and its Laotian sibling that uses cut rice noodles from which the dish’s name is derived, Northern Thai khao soi utilizes both boiled and deep-fried crispy egg noodles. As a result, the dish boasts both silky and crunchy textures. Khao soi is traditionally served with animal protein but it isn’t difficult to find a bowl that substitutes vegetables for meat.

If the complex soupy curry and egg noodle double team wasn’t enough to get you palate pulsating, you may be pleased to know that khao soi is served with some seriously delicious accoutrements. Every bowl comes with a small plate decorated with lime slices, raw shallots and pickled cabbage or mustard greens. Garnish at your discretion and toss in a bunch of chilies roasted in oil and you’ve got a day maker sitting in front of you, ready for slurping.

Note: For anyone wondering, Laotian khao soi does not incorporate coconut milk and is more of a soup than a curry. It also has tomatoes in it.

Want to discover khao soi and other fantastic Thai food? Sign up for one of our trips!

Rice in Thai Culture

Rice in Thai Culture

rice
rice_fields
rice_fields

Rice is not merely a staple of Thai food, but a pillar of Thai culture. The largest exporter of rice in the world, half the farmable land in the country is dedicated to its production. As a result, an enormous amount of jobs are dependent on the cultivation of rice. 

Jasmine rice – the aromatic, long grained variety native to Thailand – is sold all over the world in it’s husk as brown rice  and, even more commonly, shucked as white rice. In Thailand, almost all meals are served with Jasmine rice. In fact, gin khao, the verb meaning “to eat”, literally translates to “eat rice.”

blackrice
blackrice

Also integral to the Thai food culture is khao niaw, or sticky rice. This glutinous variety is favored in Issan (northeastern province) and the north and is served with a variety of dishes. White sticky rice is commonly eaten with the hands when enjoying dishes like som tam (spicy papaya salad) or seua rong hai (crying tiger beef). It’s great for sopping up liquids and quelling the scorch of a chili. It is often made into deserts as well. Khao niaw ma muang (mango with sticky rice) is immensely popular among travelers and locals alike. Khao niaw dam (black sticky rice) is combined with coconut milk to make a simple yet decadent treat. Other uses for sticky rice range from roasting and grinding the grain (khao khua) for use in dishes such as larb and nam tok to frying balls of rice to be served with minced pork, peanuts, ginger and chilies (naem khluk). People will infuse their sticky rice with different plants to alter the color and flavor. It’s not uncommon to see bright green, pandamus flavored rice, as well as pink, purple, blue and yellow treats.

Less common than jasmine and sticky rice is red cargo rice. Rich in vitamins, red rice has a nutty flavor profile with a chewier texture than jasmine rice. I find it to be very hearty and enjoy it with curry very much.

Finally, if you’re lucky, you may come across blue rice while in Thailand. It is simply white jasmine rice that has been dyed with blue pea flowers, but it’s quite beautiful. As one would expect, the flavor is somewhat floral, though it’s very subtle. If you’re traveling with a child who’s a picky eater, blue rice may convince them to clear their plate.

Interested in learning more about rice and food culture? Check out our available Thai tours here!

Off The Path Travel's Guide to Kuey Teow

Off The Path Travel's Guide to Kuey Teow

kwayteow1

As we’ve said before, food is a huge part of Thai culture. To me, the quintessential everyday Thai dish is kuey teow, noodle soup that can be found on just about any street in the country.

Kuey teow can be enjoyed at any time, day or night. It works as a quick breakfast, a snack or dinner. After a night out, there’s nothing in the world that I crave more than kuey teow bamee moo dang (soup with egg noodles and red pork). Since it’s primarily served at street stalls or open-air restaurants, it’s a meal that you always feel comfortable eating while exploring an area by yourself but can easily be part of a social gathering. Between 2 and 35 baht a bowl, it’s also incredibly affordable.

kwaystand
kwaystand

As with other dishes popular in Thai culture, kuey teow is fully customizable to your palette. Here are some hints to help you along your way:

-       Protein: Each stand generally specializes in one type of kuey teow, typically beef, pork or duck. Ask for your bowl pee set and, for a few extra baht, you’ll get a larger portion.

-       Noodles: You’ll have to choose between rice noodles and bamee. If you choose rice, you’ll need to decide sen lek or sen yai (thin or wide). Bamee is a wavy egg noodle served al dente.

-       Broth: Stands will typically have a naam sai, a simple stock, though specialty stalls feature tom yam (spicy/sour) and yen ta fo (fish) broths. You can also order naam tok, which adds pork blood to the naamsai broth to give it a richer flavor and darker color. Keuy teow that features duck or slow cooked beef, more often than not, is served with the stock the protein was simmering in.

kwayteowcondiments
kwayteowcondiments

-       Extras: Some vendors have little bonuses you can request, such as crispy fried chips and dumplings.

-       Condiments: This is the most important part of eating kuey teow, where the soup becomes yours. Some options include ground chili flakes (for heat), chilies in vinegar (for heat and sour notes), fish sauce (for a salty, savory flavor), and sugar (for sweetness). A friend of mine who was a cook in Chiang Mai once told me that you can always have a good bowl of kuey teow if you know how to balance your condiments based on what the broth needs.

Note: kuey teow refers to noodles in general, but if you tell someone you want to eat kuey teow they’ll know you’re talking about the soup.

Want to try out every variation of kuey teow imaginable? Check out our Thai tours!

Thai Food Month Part 4: Do It Yourself Thai

Thai Food Month Part 4: Do It Yourself Thai

moo1

Thai food is generally eaten family-style and dining is often equal parts social gathering and culinary indulgence. Everyone serves each other and nobody seems to be in a rush to get somewhere else. Nothing epitomizes this more completely than the phenomena that are moo kra ta (Thai barbecue) and moo joom (Thai hot pot).

Moo Kra Ta: In homes and restaurants around Thailand, friends and family gather to gorge themselves over the course of a few hours. Thai BBQ restaurants offer a variety of marinated meats, seafood and vegetables to cook up at your table. The establishments generally offer Thai food in addition to other side dishes and desserts and everything is served buffet-style. Everyone takes only what they can finish.

The quiet stars of Thai Barbecue are the dipping sauces. Each diner fills a few small bowls with different dips to add an extra layer of flavor to whatever comes off the grill. This is great for people with different tastes as everyone can spice their food differently while still eating the same dishes as their dining companions.

moo3
moo3

The Barbecue:

  • A metallic tabletop grill - heated by charcoal - features a dome for grilling meat.
  • A moat around the dome is filled with soup stock for boiling noodles and vegetables.
  • As the drippings from the dome make it’s way down into the stock, the soup becomes increasingly delicious.
  • Generally, everyone shares cooking responsibilities and everyone takes a little bit of the grilled meat and soup at a time.
moo2
moo2

Moo Joom: Moo joom uses clay hot pots that are filled with soup stock to boil meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles. Just like moo kra ta, this distant cousin of Japanese shabu-shabu gets more delicious over the course of the meal. Diners have the option of plucking selections out of the broth and dipping it into a medley of sauces or simply enjoying the meal as a soup.

Moo kra ta and moo joom are favorites amongst Thai food lovers not only because they are delicious, but because they are fun, too. Cooking and eating with people, whether they’re close friends or new acquaintances, is a great way to loosen up and have a good time. With the addition of towers of beer and live bands playing traditional and modern Thai songs, enjoying a meal has never been so simple.

Interested in going to Thailand and exploring Thai cuisine? Check out our 'Thai Connection Tour' here!

Thai Food Month Part 3: Food And Community

Thai Food Month Part 3: Food And Community

warorot_market-1

Community is a huge part of Thai culture. People use Thai food as a way to connect, celebrate their culture, and show they care about each other. This is why most dishes in Thailand are communal and eaten together, unlike many western countries where each person eats an individual dish. For this week’s post for Thai Food Month, we will explore all the ways food and community is connected.

commun
commun

In most small towns there is one main market to go for food, which have vendors stocked by local farms in the area. When one explores a Thai market, they will see how everybody seems to know each other and how much of a social experience it is. This is because of how tight knit communities are. Unlike the States, a farmer’s market isn’t considered special and only ran once a week, instead it is an every day occurrence. Instead of going to the grocery store once a week, most people buy their food from the markets fresh every day.

If you learn to speak Thai, you’ll quickly see how much people like to talk about Thai food. After greeting each other, a common thing to say is ‘kin khao ru-yang’, which literally translates into ‘have you eaten rice yet?’ If you say you haven’t, you’ll most likely be given food. You will always know that a person likes you if they ask you this question.

mugrathat
mugrathat

Meals are very communal in Thailand. In some parts of the country, mostly in northern and eastern Thailand, absolutely every dish is shared including sticky rice. People will eat with their hands as well. For any special festival or holiday, people from the village will all cook different Thai food dishes and bring them to the local temple and have a feast. Most families will also cook their own food for weddings outside of the cities.

One famous and delicious form of communal eating in Thailand is mu-gra-that, which is Thai do-it-yourself barbeque. Different meats are cooked on a half circle grill that also has compartment to make soup. The grease from different meats fall into the soup, so the more you eat, the better the broth becomes. The meals come with an assortment of different chili sauces to dip the meat. There are countless mu-gra-that restaurants in Thailand that are always packed.

All in all, almost every occasion in Thailand is a reason to eat and come together. It makes sense, as Thai food culture is so important to the people. If you are interested in trying all the delicious food Thailand has to offer, check out our Thai Connection tour here.

Thai Food Month Part 2: Thai Chilies

Thai Food Month Part 2: Thai Chilies

chilies
peppercorns
peppercorns

Thai food is famous – or infamous – for its spice. Soups, salads, curries, dipping sauces, rice dishes, noodles and even fruits are often served with a serious helping of capsicum. It’s difficult to imagine Thai food without the small peppers many have come to know as Thai chilies, however they weren’t always around.

As it turns out, all chilies originate from Mexico, Central America and South America. It wasn’t until the Spanish and Portuguese made contact with the New World and then headed east on their trade routes that Southeast Asia came in contact with the peppers we’ve come to associate with its cuisines. Prior to their arrival around 1500, Thais used peppercorns to add spice to their dishes.

Rated anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 Scoville units, Thai chilies carry a lot of heat in a very small package. They are known in Thailand as prik kee noo, which literally translates to “mouse shit chili”, though they also are commonly referred to as “bird’s eye chili”. There are various explanations as to why Thais have bestowed the odd sobriquets to the peppers and most are somehow believable to some extent. While the obvious – and least poetic – claim points to their small size being similar to that of a mouse’s dropping or a bird’s peeper, another suggests that, like a mouse, the Thai chili will hide and then surprise you.

tomyam
tomyam

While Thailand is known around the world for its tropical climate, spicy Thai food actually works to battle the relentless heat. Ingesting capsicum speeds up your blood circulation and dilates the capillaries in your skin. As you sweat, heat is radiated away from your body to cool you down. While prik kee noo won’t help stave off dehydration, the sudden flush felt shortly after biting into one might be just the thing to help you to beat the heat.

For travelers keen on putting their spice tolerance to the test, Thailand boasts a seemingly never-ending repertoire of hot recipes. Some absolute must-try Thai food that showcases prik kee noo include:

  • Yum Woon Sen – The bean thread noodles in this salad soak up the spicy dressing made up of chilies, dried shrimp, fried garlic, peanuts and limes.
  • Pla Neung Ma Now – Steamed fish is served with a spicy coating of chilies, lime, garlic and cilantro alongside a chili dipping sauce.
  • Nam Prik Ma Muang – This spicy dip is made of green mangoes, garlic, shrimp paste and chilies and is served with blanched vegetables and/or sticky rice.
  • Tom Yam Kung – This popular sour Thai soup features galangal, kaffir leaves, lemongrass, mushrooms, shrimp and – you guessed it – peppers. The longer the chilies stay in the dish, the hotter the soup gets.

For all your Thai food cravings, follow us on Twitter at @otptravel and check out #ThaiFoodMonth

Also, if you want to go to Thailand and try all these dishes and more, check out our Thai Connection Tour here!

Thai Food Month: Food And Spirituality

Thai Food Month: Food And Spirituality

tfood

Thai food is wonderful and diverse. This month at Off The Path Travel, we will be celebrating it with a blog series called Thai Food Month. During this time, we will explore every aspect of Thai food such as the history, culture, and influences of what makes it what it is today. For this installment we’ll be exploring spirituality and food.

image006
image006

Food as a whole is spiritual. It connects us to the earth and our environment through its sustenance. Eating it can be treated as a sort of ritual that connects you to that spiritual presence. After eating something delicious, many people claim to feel naturally high and happy in a way they can’t explain.  There are many ways Thai food is used in every day spiritual practices.

Food is used as an offering in Buddhism and Brahmanism, which makes up Thai spirituality. When you go to a temple, it is quite normal to see rice and fruit offerings at the foot of different idols.  They are also left in front of Baan Jow Ti (spirit houses that you can read about here). People leave food as offerings because of the concept of sacrifice, which was a central part of Vedic Hinduism that influenced all spiritual practices that came out of India. The concept of sacrifice is that a person who works and provides food is almost giving a part of himself or herself when they offer the fruits of their labor to something beyond them. It shows self-surrender, devotion, and selflessness.

thai-monks-eating-house-blessing
thai-monks-eating-house-blessing

Food culture is very present in Buddhism. One of the most well known practices is alms giving where every morning monks make their rounds and are given food by citizens for many of the same reasons as they give offerings to idols. For the monks, these offerings are their only sustenance for the day. Monks only eat twice a day in the early morning and right before noon. They are also vegetarians. This is because the idea of not being greedy is very important. Monks practice self-control by only consuming what they need. Even though most Thais aren’t vegetarians, Thai food dishes contain shredded meat instead of large cuts to use less of it at a time.

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Sometimes special Thai food dishes are eaten for spiritual rituals. In northern Thailand, where the belief in spirits is very strong, strange dishes are sometimes eaten to appease them, as Thais believe that spirits need to be shown respect as they can interfere with every day life. Before two people are married and move in together, members of both families will sometimes eat a special version of laarb mu, which is a salad of minced pork, onions, chili, and lime. For this ritual they, eat the pork raw and also add the blood of the animal.

Interested in learning more about Thai food and culture? Check out our ‘Thai Connection Tour’ for an authentic local Thai experience.