Eating Out Thai Style

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Dear Hillary,

Can you advise us (my wife and myself) as to what is the correct Thai way to eat with a group of Thai people.  We have been invited to join some of the staff after work at a local restaurant, but we are just a bit afraid of the spicy food and the hygiene at local restaurants.  Please tell us what is the etiquette and safe dishes to order.

George and Mildred

Dear George and Mildred,

Oooooh!  Are you the same George and Mildred from the TV show about 20 years ago?  Hillary gets some amazing and famous people in this column.  Oooooh, I am so honored!

You will find that the fare at local restaurants will tend to be spicy, as that is to Thai taste, but there are many dishes without chilli.  Just ask the senior Thai person in the group to advise and some very mild dishes will be brought to the table.

Thais will naturally share all the dishes with each other, and it does give you an opportunity to try several different curries.  These days there is (usually) a serving spoon with each dish, so you don’t use the personal spoon you eat with, so it is a bit more hygienic.  All stir-fries cooked on the spot are generally the best for hygiene, rather than curries that have been sitting in open pots for a few hours.

Try to just go with the flow, Petals.  The Thai staff will be more nervous having you dining with them, than you will be eating with them.  Just remember to say “Aroy, aroy” which means you are enjoying the food (even if you are not)!