T is for Thailand and its cuisine so T is for Thai Cuisine. We Indians are familiar with Italian cuisine (pasta, pizza and lasagne to name a few Italian dishes), Chinese cuisine (need I say anything further), and cuisines from various other parts of the world. But we still get confused when Thai Cuisine comes to mind. I do get confuse, I don’t know about other foodies (seasonal ones). So what exactly is Thai Cuisine and what is its importance in today’s eating habits.
According to Wikipedia (please correct me if I am wrong anywhere.) Thai cuisine – the national cuisine of Thailand is all about balance, detail and variety, as these three things are of paramount significance to Thai chefs. Renowned celebrity chef McDang, who is also a writer and authority on Thai cuisine, wrote in his book The Principles of Thai Cookery – what is food? He said that every country has its own food profile that reflects its culture, environment, ingenuity and values.
He also wrote that when one thinks of Thai food words that come to any mind are – intricacy, attention to detail, texture, colour, taste and the use of ingredients with medicinal benefits, as well as good flavour. McDang also talks about how Thai chefs not only pay attention on the taste of the dish but are also concerned about its appearance, smell and how will it fit in with the rest of the meal.
Talking about preparing a wholesome Thai meal, McDang in his book says that Thai chef think of all parts of the meal as a whole – sum rap Thai (the way Thais eat), is the term Thai chefs use for the unique components that make up a characteristically Thai meal.
Apparently cooking in Thailand is more emphasised on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge. Thai cuisine is known for its complex interplay of minimum of three and up to four or five fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy.
Another chef from another country, who also happens to be an expert on Thai cuisine said, “Thai food is not about simplicity. It’s about the juggling of disparate elements to create a harmonious finish. Like a complex musical chord it’s got to have a smooth surface but it doesn’t matter what’s happening underneath. Simplicity isn’t the dictum here, at all. Some westerners think it’s a jumble of flavours, but to a Thai that’s important, it’s the complexity they delight in”.
But don’t get hassled by what all is written here because another food expert said that there are ten essential ingredients to a Thai cuisine and if we have those ten ingredients then we are all set to begin our Thai cooking classes.