Thai Cuisine is one of the most unique and flavorful experiences for the pallet. Often known for its spiciness, however, it is the strong aromatic seasonings and spices that better signify a true Thai dish. Interestingly enough, Thai food usually stimulates multiple taste sensations by invoking some or all of these tastes: bitter, sweet, salty or sour. While that may seem like a confusing and unpleasant taste combination - Thai cuisine is known for the ability to bring these complex tastes together into one harmonious experience.
Thailand has always been known as the rice bowl of Asia, a distinction that even centuries of empires, wars, and changes in kingdoms has not diminished in over a thousand years. While today's inhabitants of Thailand are quite possibly long ago descendants of China, the cuisine found in Thailand is uniquely its own and there are not just subtle differences between Thai and Chinese cuisines. Unlike any other Asian cuisine, Thai food stands alone in its ability to incorporate all 5 tastes, as we've already explored. Interestingly enough, Thai cuisine has actually culminated in taking and transforming influences from each century old inhabitants such as the original Thai tribe that bordered the mountains of South China's Yunnan Province, the Mongols under Kublai Khan, the Kingdom or Sukho, nor the Mon Prince Ramatibodi who founded the Kingdom of Ayuthaya in the South.
Thai cuisine is actually a distinctly different grouping of four regional cuisines corresponding to the four regions of the country: Southern, Northern, Central, and Northeastern (also referred to as Isan). Each of these regional cuisines share similarities to their neighbors such as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. And none of these four regional cuisines can diminish the existence of a fifth cuisine commonly referred to as the Thai Royal Cuisine which originated back in the Ayutthaya kingdom around 1351. Each regional cuisine is supported by the neighboring countries, and its own geographic climate, to determine staples such as rice porridge versus noodles versus coconut milk versus lime juice.
If you are new to the wonderful world of Thai cuisine, looking for something spicy or hot, ask for it. Interested in something sweet or with a more exotic appeal, ask for that instead. You'll soon discover that there is no other comparison to the divine selection of Thai choices available and your pallet will thank you for exposing it to a plethora of tastes in one sitting - talk about a work out for the tongue!