Not everyone may know about Thailand. But many probably have heard of Thai food. Thai cuisine has become so popular that it has gained recognition worldwide. Thai foods are sold in many restaurants in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. However, because many Thai dishes tend to lean toward the very spicy or very sweet side, foreigners may find the tastes a bit overwhelming. Often times, Thai foods at restaurants abroad are altered in order to suit the Western palates. One of the best ways to truly immerse yourself in the authentic taste of Thai foods is to come taste them in their birth country.
Here’s the thing. Many Thais love sugar. They love it so much that sugar is poured (yes poured, not sprinkled) into many foods and drinks. When ordering a bowl of noodles, it is common to see Thais add a spoonful of sugar, chili powder, and fish sauce. They would pour all these seasonings into their food without even tasting the food first to see if the extra seasonings were even needed. It is almost like an automatic action. Same thing happens at the stalls selling fruit juice and smoothie. Often times, the customers could choose the fruits or vegetables that are laid out in a tray and the vendor would blend them together. Most of the time if not all, the vendor would then pour a ladleful of syrup into the blender whether the customer asked for it or not. If you are someone who does not like extra sweetness in your juice, make sure that after you selected your fruits and veggies for the vendor to blend, tell the vendor “yaa-sai-naam-cheuam” which means, don’t put syrup.
Different people can tolerate different level of spiciness. A dish that is considered a little spicy for some people could be perceived as too spicy for others. That’s why when you order food, especially when ordering the famous Thai papaya salad (som-tam), count on it being spicy. If you cannot eat spicy at all or you can eat just a wee bit, it’s best to just say “mai-ow-prik” which means I don’t want any chili. In the Thai papaya salad, there is garlic in it so there is already a slightly spicy taste. If you tell the vendor you want a little spicy, sometimes a little spicy for them may be considered too spicy for you. Some people can tolerate several chilis but some people feel their tongues burning with just one. This is a little something to be aware of when ordering things to eat in Thailand. “A little spicy” tends to end up being quite spicy in the end.