In my mind, Thailand is a beautiful and somewhat mystical place, brimming with history and rich cultural traditions. I have never traveled to the Far East, but Thailand is the first place I hope to visit. Like many Asian countries, Thailand's national cuisine is colorful, spicy, and nutritious. Eating good food is essential to achieving a balanced life. In his book, The Principles of Thai Cookery, celebrity Thai food expert Chef McDang wrote:

"What is Thai food? Every country in the world has its own food profile. It reflects its culture, environment, ingenuity and values. In the case of Thailand, these words come to mind: intricacy; attention to detail; texture; color; taste; and the use of ingredients with medicinal benefits, as well as good flavor."Common flavors in Thai food include garlic, galangal, coriander, shallots, kaffir lime, tamarind, and chilies. Coconut milk as well as coconut vinegar are widely used in a variety of dishes. Rice, or khao, is the first and most important part of every meal, so much so that the Thai phrase used for eating a meal (gin khao) literally means "eat rice." Noodles are also common and are typically made from rice flour, wheat flour, or mung bean flour.

Traditionally, meals in Thailand were eaten with the right hand, although they are now generally eaten with a fork and spoon. You may get funny looks from your waiter if you ask for chopsticks at a Thai restaurant, as chopsticks are rarely used in Thai cuisine. Whether or not you choose to devour it with your bare hands (not recommended unless you want to leave with most of it on your clothes), Thai food is some of the most purely pleasurable and invigorating international cuisines to eat. The recipes I've shared below will reassure you that you don't have to go out on a limb to enjoy delicious Thai flavors at home. Happy travels!

Chiang Mai Pork Patties
Credit: John Autry