Often times when we are unfamiliar with things, we find ourselves creating assumptions, some of which don’t even make sense. Being fully blooded Thai and receiving authentic Thai food all of my life, several individuals have approached me with some of the most interesting questions and assumptions regarding Thai food. Here are some I have been approached with the most!
Myth #1: “Thai food is a type of Asian food. Use chopsticks!”
Yes, Thai food is definitely one of the many delicious types of Asian foods. However, when eating Thai food, it is extremely rare that one will use chopsticks. Unless that individual is enjoying some noodles, in that case, it would make sense to do so.
A lot of us have been accustomed to eating rice with chopsticks, due to the popularity of Chinese food, and in some cases, I have seen several individuals become offended when given a spoon and fork when dining at a Thai restaurant. Traditional Thai dishes often require a spoon and fork, as these two utensils help ease the process of getting the small long-grain rice in your mouth. My parents have always told me that the main function of the fork is to get food onto the spoon, and well, the spoon is used to get the food in your mouth.
Myth #2: “I’d like Thai food if it all wasn’t so spicy!”
My junior year of high school, one of my good friends asked me to describe Thai food in one word. For some odd reason, the first word that popped in my mind was SPICY. If I were asked that question now, I would have to say Thai food is very… Bold. I might be biased, but I would have to say that Thai food possesses a very good balance of all the different flavors. Nothing is too sweet, too sour, too salty, etc. It is a grand mixture of a variety of flavors and ingredients that makes my mouth water every single time.
When considering authentic Thai cuisine, I would have to say that it is extremely rare that a dish will be spicy enough to have you running for something to distinguish the fire in your mouth. It all really depends on one’s personal preference, and overall, Thai chefs use a reasonable amount of spice in their dishes to bring out all the possible flavors. When dining at authentic Thai restaurants, most often times than not, you will find several condiments for you to alter your dish’s flavors as you please. If you want more spice, feel free to add the chili powder. If you want a more intense sweet flavor, feel free to add sugar. It really all depends on one’s personal preference.
The assumption of ALL Thai food being spicy is obviously not true. Yes, the spiciness of a majority of dishes presented in menus can be altered, and I believe that the option to do so makes individuals believe that the small selection of dishes represents all. However, there are so many different soups and dishes that have no spiciness at all whatsoever, and I will surely be sharing the easy recipes with you all very soon!
Myth #3: “I added peanuts to this dish. It’s Thai now.”
This myth makes me laugh nonstop. A couple years ago, as I was making pizza with one of my friends, she turned to me and said, “I used a peanut sauce for the pizza, and I sprinkled some peanuts with the chicken. This Thai pizza will be awesome!”
Her excitement made me refrain myself from bursting her bubble and telling her that just because you add a peanut sauce and some actually peanuts to a dish does not make it any more Thai than it was before. Although our pizza didn’t come out the way we anticipated (it was more like chicken and peanut butter pizza), I often think back and laugh at the widely accepted assumption.
Peanuts can be a viable characteristic of Thai cuisine. However, it isn’t a necessary ingredient in all dishes. A lot of Americanized Thai dishes are called that solely because it has peanuts in it. If I added peanuts to my tomato soup, it wouldn’t make my soup any more Thai, would it?
What other myths have you heard about Thai food?! Share them by commenting below!