If life was made out of purely anagrams, symbols and associations — what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say “Thailand”? I bet 90% of you thought of Pad Thai, first! Then maybe, elephants and temples?
This highly ubiquitous noodle dish is known to most foreigners whom may of may not have visited Thailand before. It is basically a stir-fried Thai-style rice noodle dish — loaded with eggs, chopped firm tofu, bean sprouts, garlic chives, flavored with the pulp of a tamarind, fish sauce (nam-pla น้ำปลา), garlic/shallots, dried shrimps, palm sugar, red chili peppers, served with a lime wedge and roasted peanuts sprinkled on top. It has a perfect balance of sweetness from the palm sugar, saltiness from the fish sauce & tanginess from the tamarind. For most restaurants in the Western world, it ironically seems to be the de facto dish of Thai cuisine (but if you were to carefully analyze the ingredients found in a plate of pad thai — none of the ingredients are actually native to Thailand!).
And interestingly enough, this dish is quintessentially more Chinese than Thai, really. Although, we can’t deny that ‘Pad Thai’ has a much better ring to the name than ‘Pad Chinese’! Right?
I find it pretty amusing cause I’ve met some foreigners (or *farangs as the Thais call them) here whom never fail to rave to their mates about eating ‘Pad Thai Gai’ (or Pad Thai with Chicken) every single meal. I’m proud of you for attempting to eat Thai food, but I hate to break the news that there is so much more to the cuisine than just pad thai.
Look around and you’ll see rows of street carts marking their territory on every street corner, nook and alley — selling everything else other than pad Thai. But hey, regardless of what I’ve written above I don’t have anything against Pad Thai — I crave it once in a while too (it’s definitely on my cheap and tasty comfort food list)! Grab a plate for 30–40 baht ($0.80-$1.20 USD)!
Just take a step out of the tourist comfort zone and you’ll be in awe at the plethora of delectable Thai dishes offered in this magnificent Kingdom.
But, that deserves a whole post on it’s own!
(*A generic Thai word for someone of European descent, regardless of where they come from.)
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