Thai Noodle is certainly most famous for the spiciness of it’s dishes, but there is much more to Thai cuisine than meets the eye.
There is a staying in Thailand: “One cannot think well, love well, and sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
You will notice during your time in Thailand that Thai people all across the country love food! The process of making, talking and discuss about food will take up a good portion of everyones day. In fact when you see someone in the afternoon in Thailand a common greeting is: ‘have you eaten already?’ to which a common response would be to answer yes or no, and if yes, to give a brief overview of the meal. Thai people are completely enamoured with food.
We want to talk about one of the most commonly found dishes throughout this Kingdom, talk about the history and regional significance of the dish.
One of the most common simple dishes across the country are noodles. They come in all shapes and forms. Perhaps most commonly known because of Pad Thai. A diets made up of medium sized rice noodles, bean sprouts, fried eggs, shallots, garlic, dried shrimp, and topped with crushed peanuts and side of crushed red chilis. Pad Thai might be the most well known dish in Thailand, but it certainly isn’t the only one you can try.
It is thought that noodles were originally brought to Thailand (At the time the capital was Ayutthaya) by Chinese traders during the the 1700’s. At the time the dish reflected a more sour and salty flavour profile and didn’t contain many fresh vegetables, this was due to it’s influence from the Chinese traders. Slowly over the years and experimentation that noodles underwent it took on a new breed of itself and developed it’s own identity as a Thai dish.
After noodles were adopted into the mainstream diet of Thai people, variations began to emerge. Thin, wide, ride noodles, glass noodles and many other variations could be found in restaurants and markets. In fact throughout Thailand each region has adopted their own style of noodle dishes.
In the North, Cow Soi is the most popular dish found, It is a yellow noodle, soup with fresh and fermented vegetables, spices and some kind of meat are all mixed together and served in a meat broth. In the South, Kamon Jin is commonly found. Kanom Jin is an extremely thin noodle served with a side of some variety of curry. In the Northeast (Issan) the same thin noodles (Kanom Jin) are served but with dry spearmint and minced meat salad as a side.
The whole country has adapted the original Chinese noodle to reflect the flavour of their region.
It hasn’t always been like this though. Noodle dishes weren’t a mainstay of the Thai diet until the time of WWII. During the 1940’s the Thai government in an effort to conserve the countries national resources and rice crops from foreign exports and also to promote a singular national identity promoted eating noodles. This was done by issuing statements and broadcasts telling the Thai people that if they were to eat noodles they were helping the country and preserving the rice crop. there was a famous slogan issues all across the country during this period “Noodle is your lunch” promoting the dish of Pad Thai as a national dish and a symbol of pride all across the country.
This national dish really did take off and is now what the country is often known for internationally speaking.
This was during a time when the countries surrounding Thailand were under foreign control from either the French or British empires. Therefore Thailand’s government saw it more important to create and reinforce a strong national identity across all areas of Thai culture.
So eat up next time your asking the streets in Thailand, there is bound to be a noodle cart soon to be found. No matter where you eat noodles in Thailand, Thai noodles are bound to be delicious and cooked with love. Noodles are a symbol of pride and revered throughout the kingdom.