In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Should you eat Thai food with chopsticks? We will talk about table manners and food etiquette in Thailand.
Should you eat Thai food with chopsticks?
In Thailand, chopsticks are only used for stand-alone noodle dishes. Even if you prefer chopsticks and want to show that you know how to use them courteously, Thais don’t use them for rice-based dishes.
In Thailand, people eat with a spoon in the right hand and a fork in the left. The spoon is the main utensil; the fork is only used for handling food. Only items that are not eaten with rice (for example, pieces of fruit) can be eaten with a fork.
There will be no knives on the table, or anywhere outside the kitchen for that matter; the food should already be in small pieces. If you need to cut smaller foods, use the edge of your spoon to cut them, reaching for the fork only if necessary.
Northern provincial foods like Isan may include glutinous “sticky” rice served in small baskets. Eat glutinous rice by compressing it with the fingers of your right hand and using it to scoop up food and sauces.
- Don’t ask for chopsticks.
- Hold the spoon in your right hand and the fork in your left.
- Eat with the spoon. Don’t put your fork in your mouth.
- Use the fork to push the food onto the spoon.
- Eat sticky rice with your fingers; you should use your right hand.
Table manners and food etiquette in Thailand: Dos and Don’ts of Eating in Thailand
In Thailand, cooking and eating world-famous cuisine is taken very seriously. But Thais are fun and easy-going when it comes to socializing. As a guest, your accidental table infractions will be forgiven. Meals are often noisy, informal affairs with chatter, drinks, and laughter.
All group meals in Thailand are shared, so don’t plan on ordering your own food. By custom, the older ladies at the table will pick and choose dishes for the group. Various types of meat and fish can be represented along with a few different vegetables. If there’s something you want to try, ask the person ordering it and you can get the “hint.” The rice will be served in separate bowls.
If you have special dietary restrictions, you do not need to listen to them when ordering. Just don’t go for dishes that you think might be a problem, and make up your mind politely if someone asks you to try something that doesn’t fit your diet.
As a guest, people will probably expect you to try some local specialties. But if you’re sure you can’t eat what’s being offered, gently tapering off is better than leaving it on your plate without eating.
The key to Thai cuisine is that it mixes five flavors: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter, and salty. In this way it manages to attack the palate on all sides and when it is well-executed, and the spiciness is not predominant, it achieves a harmony of flavors difficult to find in other cuisines. Fresh herbs (coriander and Thai basil, especially) added at the last moment of preparing the dish, serve to accentuate the feeling of freshness.
There is a huge variety of regional cuisines. In general terms, the spiciest dishes are cooked in the South, an area of clear Indian influence. In the north, because of the colder climate, the food contains more fat. In the Northeast the flavors are reduced to salty and spicy, the rest disappearing.
Coconut milk is an essential ingredient. It makes a difference with the Indian curries to which ghee (a kind of clarified butter) is added and the Thai ones that almost always use this milk to bind the stew.
Famous Thai food that should not never be eaten with chopsticks
Tom Kha Gai (Chicken soup with coconut milk). It is the most famous soup in Thailand, extremely spicy and aromatic. There are multiple versions, the most common is chicken and almost all are whitish due to the effect of coconut milk.
They also consist of a mash of herbs, spices, fish sauce, galangal, and chili peppers. By the way, they use the serrano chili and other varieties that came from America, although some indigenous chilies are also used, such as the exaggeratedly hot bird’s eye.
Mango sticky rice. It is the Thai version of rice pudding. A dish that those with a sweet tooth cannot forget. It is common to find it in street food stalls, but also in the most elegant restaurants.
It is prepared with glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk with sugar. The sliced or diced mango is added later. When well done, the texture of the rice is spectacular, morbid but consistent at the same time.
Green curry with dwarf aubergines. It is another classic of local cuisine. The dwarf aubergines (a local variety the size of a pea or a plum) are essential, without them the dish would not be understood since they provide very characteristic bitter notes. But actually, the most important thing is that the green curry paste is homemade and not industrial.
The essential ingredients to make it are green chilies, toasted coriander and cumin seeds, white pepper, kaffir lime skin, coriander roots, chopped galangal and lemongrass, turmeric, red onion, and shrimp paste. Green curry is very aromatic but also very spicy, although its color is misleading.
Here are the essentials of table manners in Thailand:
- Don’t talk or laugh with your mouth full of food – no exceptions!
- Don’t blow your nose at the table. Excuse the bathroom.
- Do not use a toothpick without covering your mouth with your other hand.
- Don’t be the first to mention business matters. Wait for the other party to change modes.
- Don’t make noises while eating. Unlike other Asian countries, slurping soups and noodles is not a good idea.
- Don’t forget to thank your host with a courteous kawp khun khrap | kha (thank you man or woman) at the end of the meal.
Was this post helpful? If so, please do not hesitate to let us know what you think!