For the Thai people, eating is always a pleasure and
is an important feature of everyday life. Lunch may
be a quick bowl of noodle soup bought from one of
the many street vendors, or it may be a meal eaten
at home with the rest of the family. Whatever the
meal, eating is always a time for enjoyment.
At home, meals are generally
shared and are based on rice (Khao). The Thai word
"to eat" is actually Kin Khao (to eat rice).
A bowl of rice is usually placed at the centre of
the table surrounded by the other dishes and condiments.
It is considered polite to begin the meal with a single
spoonful of rice symbolizing the importance of the
grain within the Thai culture and way of life.
The host will serve
himself or herself with rice first, before offering
it to guests, It is important to only take small helpings
of each dish. When the meal is over, food should always
be left on the plate and in the serving dishes, to
emphasize the generousity of the host.
The in fluence of the
Buddhist tradition can be seen in the Thai approach
to meat. Thais do not believe that meat should be
served in large portions. It is, therefore, always
served in small amounts, usually cut in to bitesize
pieces or shredded.
Because meat is always
chopped small before cooking, knives are redundant
at a Thai table. Meals are usually eaten with a spoon
and a fork. The fork is held in the left hand and
is used to push food on to the spoon. The food is
then conveyed to the mouth using the spoon; it is
considered rude to put a fork in one's mouth. Chopsticks
are only used when eating Chinese-style noodles. In
the northern territories, sticky, glutinous rice is
roled into balls and eaten with the right hand - they
swear it tastes better. However, licking your fingers
is considered impolite. Blowing your nose at the table
is also considered very rude.