The Thai Meal - Dining Thai-Style
Here we describe the traditional ways of dining and eating Thai meals in the home.
Eat with Rice
Traditionally, the Thai meal is served all at once, family-style, not in courses. Dishes are served warm or at room temperature, unlike Western hot off the grill, which creates a more relaxing dining experience! Rice though is preferably served steaming hot in a shallow bowl for each diner, similar in size to Western soup plates. But you may also serve very spicy foods with room-temperature rice to cut down on the heat-factor!
The Fork, Spoon & Knife
The meal is eaten with a fork and spoon (note that chopsticks are for noodles only). The fork is used only to push the rice onto the spoon. The correct method of eating with a spoon and a fork is to hold the fork in the left hand and to use it to push the food onto the spoon. The fork is never used to eat directly from (similar to the Western table knife). The spoon is favored because many Thai dishes are soupy like curries and coconut soups.
Knives, once considered vulgar at the table, are now becoming common in modern city homes. Knives are not necessary because everything is cut into small pieces before cooking. In the countryside traditional styles continue but are under pressures to change with more foreign influences.
Diners take a small spoonful of a dish from a communal serving bowl and put it onto their rice in their individual rice plates. Unlike other Asian countries, Thais eat their rice from a plate, shaped like a soup plate. This helps catch the juices of the many types of soups and sauces served.
The diner mixes the food into the rice and eats the spoonful. No one hordes one dish or takes more than one can eat in a couple of spoonfuls as this is considered to be rude. Soup is sipped noisily from a communal spoon in the serving bowl at a family meal.
Beverages at Thai Meals
Traditionally, Thai food is not served with alcohol but at an informal meal, beer can be served. Cold water is usually the beverage of choice and normally drank only after the meal is finished.
Tables and chairs once absent, are now virtually a requirement in modern Bangkok homes. In the countryside, diners often sit on a straw mat on the floor, though tables and chairs are also making headway there. See Thai Cuisine for more details.
Everyone busily helps themselves to a little this and a little of that. Each dish representing one or all of the five flavors. By eating like this the flavor is enjoyed on its own and blended together to suit individual tastes. This is the secret of eating spicy Thai food.
Visit our home style Thai Recipe section.