Bangkok eating

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Chote Chitr (p155) Thai
Cy’an (p161) International
Face (p166) Thai and Indian
Gianni Ristorante (boxed text, p160) Italian

What’s your recommendation? 


In Thailand, food is culture, and vice versa.
Appreciation of the national cuisine is so central to their cultural identity that Thais often
assume that foreigners are unable to partake
in it unless they have been trained in the difficult art of feeling exhilarated over a bowl of
well-prepared kǔaytǐaw (noodle soup). You
will not be asked simply whether you like to
eat Thai food, but ‘Kin aahǎan thai pen mái?’
(‘Do you know how to eat Thai food?’).
Nowhere else is this reverence for food
more evident than in Bangkok. The city’s
characteristic odour is a unique blend of noodle stalls and car exhaust, and in certain parts
of town, restaurants appear to form the majority of businesses, often flanked by streetside
hawker stalls and mobile snack vendors. To
the outsider, the life of an average Bangkokian
can appear to be little more than a string of
meals and snacks punctuated by the odd stab
at work, not the other way around. If you can
adjust your gutteral clock to fit this schedule,
we’re confident your stay in Bangkok will be
a delicious one indeed.
Just about every regional Thai cooking
style is available in Bangkok, although much
like the region’s language and culture, central
Thai cooking has come to be regarded as the
mainstream of Thai cuisine. Thus, central
Thai-style dishes such as tôm yam or kaeng
khǐaw wǎan (green curry) can be found across

Try to imagine a Thai curry without the chillies, phàt thai without the peanuts, or papaya salad without the papaya.
Many of the ingredients used on a daily basis by Thais are in fact relatively recent introductions, courtesy of European
traders and missionaries. During the early 16th century, while Spanish and Portuguese explorers were first reaching
the shores of Southeast Asia, expansion and discovery was taking place in the Americas. The Portuguese in particular
were quick to seize the exciting new products coming from the New World and market them in the East, thus introducing modern-day Asian staples such as tomatoes, potatoes, corn, lettuce, cabbage, chillies, papaya, guava, pineapples,
pumpkins, sweet potatoes, peanuts and tobacco.
Chillies in particular seem to have struck a chord with Thais, and are thought to have first arrived in Ayuthaya via
Chote Chitr ( p155 ) Thai
Cy’an ( p161 ) International
Face ( p166 ) Thai and Indian
Gianni Ristorante (boxed text, p160 ) Italian
What’s your recommendation? www.lonelyplanet.com/ bangkok
© Lonely Planet Publications
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