Probably the most social time for Thais is the mealtime. They enjoy their leisurely meals along with laughter and good chat that can last for hours.
So, if you do get invited to a Thai’s house over for a dinner or lunch just relax and take your time with your meals. Enjoy the company, the good talk, and the delicious food on the way. You should remove your shoes whenever you enter someone’s home but be careful not to show the bottoms of your feet.
The fact is that nobody orders the food only for themselves in Thailand, but instead for everyone on the table and then is being shared.
That unselfishness of sharing the food with others has a special feeling. Many people don’t like eating alone which is a very common sense since the food brings us that enjoyment that most of us would like to share it or express it with others, and in Thailand that is a must. That makes dining in Thailand to be so special and unique. Thai will order several dishes and everyone will eat in a communal style, and share it with each other.
The food will be served in the center of the table and everyone will reach and pour with the serving spoon. The pouring of the food shouldn’t be more than two spoons at once. You’ll have to wait for another rotation if you’d like some more after everyone is being served. Taking too much of one type of food is rude.
That’s the beauty of the community meals – you always have to be considerate of others, care how others are enjoying their meal too and not only for your own belly. But, not all of the dishes will be served at once. Simply they will keep on coming. The rice will be served separately, usually by the youngest on the table. Finally, you should take only the food you’re going to eat since it’s considerate as very impolite to leave the food on a side uneaten simply because maybe someone else would want to eat it.
In Thailand honesty is highly appreciated so if you find yourself in a situation that you have to refuse some food, you’ll be understood. Thais are very easy going so they won’t be too harsh on you if you do make some mistake regarding the Thai dining etiquette.
Thai culture is strongly hierarchical. You should always wait for the highest ranking or oldest person at the table to signal that it’s time to eat. If he doesn’t say anything, simply wait for him to begin the meal.
The spoon is the primary utensil in Thai’s kitchen. In Thailand, most of the food is eaten only with a spoon held in the right hand, with a little help of the fork in the left hand. The food is prepared in bite-size pieces and a knife is never used in Thai’s meals. If you do sometimes need to cut the food you’ll do that with the side of a spoon. The fork is there to scoop up the food and push it into the spoon.
Only noodles are eaten with chopsticks and the rice in Thailand is eaten with a spoon or the sticky one is eaten with the right hand. You should eat sticky rice by compressing it in the hand, rolling it among your fingers and then push it with the thumb into the mouth. There should be a bowl of water on the table to wash your fingers when done eating rice.
The left hand in many of the Asian cultures is considered a filthy one that we use it when going to the toilet and that’s why eating with a left hand or placing it on the table is considered as very inappropriate.
All in all, you shouldn’t order separately, ask for chopsticks if they aren’t already provided, or take your bites and eat with your fork. You shouldn’t take too much of just one dish, like your favorite one.
In Thai culture, either the oldest member of the group or the wealthiest pay for everyone. Tipping in Thailand isn’t customary and a service charge is often already added to the bill in the restaurants. The typical Thai greeting is called the Wai and includes pressing your palms together and bowing your head slightly. Typically, the person of lower status offers the Wai. Respect must be given to those of higher social status, and to elders. Social status is often determined by clothing. Although is quite inappropriate to refuse a Wai, you don’t have to return the Wai to a waitress or a street seller.
Thai food is recognized for being really spicy and for making that balance of all five flavors: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. Rice is almost always a part of a Thai meal and the finest one to accompany most dishes is the Jasmine rice, which is unique and native to Thailand.
Best Thai dishes to know:
This extremely popular dish in Thailand makes that perfect balance of all the main flavors of sweet, spicy, salty, and sour. Som Tam or well-known as Thai green papaya salad is made of papaya, toasted peanuts, garlic, shrimp, tomatoes, green beans, and sugar. Though very different in taste, green or orange papaya, it’s actually the same fruit picked at different stages of growth.
TOM KHA KAI
This highly popular Thai chicken soup is made with coconut milk, lemongrass, fresh ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, chili paste, basil, and cilantro.
TOM YUM GOONG
Tom Yum Goong is a type of hot and sour Thai soup, cooked with shrimp, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and chili peppers. Tom meaning boiled and goong shrimp.
This is an easy noodles dish with rice stick noodles, shrimp, fried tofu, and peanuts. Pad Thai is a noodle stir fry with a sweet-savory-sour sauce with crushed peanuts. It’s made with thin, flat rice noodles, garlic chives, scrambled egg, firm tofu, and shrimp. The Pad Thai sauce is made of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and chili peppers. It is commonly known as a street food but can be served at most of the restaurants in Thailand as well.
Nam Prik Pao is a common ingredient used in Thai cooking. It is spicy and sweet, with rich flavors of roasted vegetables. The usual ingredients are fresh or dry chilies, garlic, shallots, lime juice and often enriched with shrimp. It serves as a base for many Thai dishes.
GAENG KIAW WAN
Gaeng Kiaw Wan, meaning sweet green curry is one of the mildest curries in the Thai kitchen. It can be prepared with any type of meat. This is a one way to be prepared with chicken: heat the coconut cream first, add the curry paste and after 10 min add the chicken into the mixture and boil it all together. At the end add the seasoning sauce of coconut, kaffir lime leaves, sweet basil leaves, and fresh green chilies.
Literally meaning spicy curry but also known as Gaeng Daeng or red curry is a popular Thai dish consisting of red curry paste cooked in coconut milk with meat added, such as chicken, beef, pork, duck or shrimp. In the end, lime leaves and chile are added. It is a quite spicier dish.
This is a common Thai street food which can be found in some restaurants too. It’s a stirred rice on a high temperature along with vegetables and a meat on your personal taste and choice.
KHAO NIAO MAMUANG
Khao niao mamuang or Mango sticky rice is a traditional Thai dessert made of sticky rice, fresh mango, palm sugar, egg custard and coconut milk. It’s served either warm or at room temperature.