Eat like the Thai: family-style...and with a fork

Chopsticks.jpg
Without exception, during every visit I made to Thai Flavor for this week's review -- and during the lunch I ate at US Thai Cafe for this week's Second Helping -- I overheard at least one table ask for chopsticks. I'd venture a guess that those diners thought they were being respectful, eating Thai food the way the Thai people do.

Each time, the staff at both restaurants obliged without comment. And each time, I had to fight the nerdish impulse to tell those well-meaning eaters that they were wrong.

Fact is -- and I learned this the hard way -- if you're asking for chopsticks for your pad Thai because you're trying to be culturally adept, you should know that in Thailand, people eat with a fork. A spoon, too, which is generally set beside the fork to slurp up the sauces that coat many dishes. Although chopsticks definitely migrated to that part of the Indochinese peninsula, Thai diners don't use them unless, maybe, they're downing a bowl of noodle soup.

What's more, there are rarely single entrees or staged courses in Thailand. Rather, dishes are brought to the table as they're ready and shared by everyone. Which is why many Thai restaurants here in the States, Thai Flavor included, don't always bring everyone's order at the same time. And while an eatery might offer a list of starters or appetizers, it's doing that solely for the Western patron.

Kind of like keeping chopsticks on hand. Solely for the Western patron.

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7 comments
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G-ram
G-ram

Northern Thai food is also commonly ate by balling up sticky rice and scooping the sauces/pastes it accompanies onto the rice.

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Nice article. Thank you very much for giving all these information to public. Its good to know all these things before we visit US Thai cafe.

Andy
Andy

Having lived in Thailand, I can say that Thais do use chopsticks occasionally for noodle dishes. They really are more useful than forks for thinner noodles. Generally, however, Thais use a spoon and fork, but not like we westerners do. The fork is used to push food onto the spoon which is the only utensil put in one's mouth. In Thailand, if the server provides chopsticks then feel free to use them, otherwise just stick to the spoon and fork. Here, I'd say all bets are off and just pick the utensil that's the easiest for the given dish. You're unlikely to either offend or score points with your Thai hosts based on your choice of utensil.

Fletch Davis
Fletch Davis

Noticed that last night when I went to Thai Flavor (needed to hit it up before the print review came out and everyone rushed the joint). Damn fine curry... damn fine.

davebarnes
davebarnes

"Solely for the Western patron."I don't believe that it is just people in the West. I believe these idiots are all over the USA.

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