The Thai Meal

The Thai meal has changed somewhat over the years, but the essential basics are the same. There is a formal Thai style of eating, but this is rarely practiced nowadays except in very special company. A normal Thai evening meal has no starter. All the main courses are served together at the same time in the centre of the table. Each diner is given a dinner plate with nothing on it. The host then serves the rice, always boiled. Fried rice is for chinese meals and lunchtime snacks.

The main courses follow a basic structure - at least one soup, one deep fried dish, one stir fried dish and a curry. This is the 'natural balance' of Thai cooking. Depending on the number of guests and the occasion the number of different dishes will vary, but it would not be uncommon at a big occasion to have eight or ten different dishes on the table. The cutlery provided is at least a fork (on the left) and spoon (on the right) while a small soup bowl and spoon may be provided for more elevated guests.

With the rice on your plate you then choose to take a spoonful of one dish at a time, mix with some rice on your plate and put in your mouth with the spoon. The fork is used to manipulate food onto and around the spoon, never to put in your mouth.