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Despite the fact that food is a commodity consumed by all people in the world, different countries and people are associated with a specific type of food which is native to them. The native food types of any country or ethnic group make the larger part of their cuisine as part of cultural representations.
The specific food types therefore contribute to their culture and values in the society. However, there are regions that hold more to their cultures as compared to others. For example, most of the Asian nations still hold their cultural roots unlike their counterparts in Europe and America. This paper is therefore about the representative food(s) of an Asian nation known as Thailand.
The Country’s food item
Thailand is a country located in the south east of Asia. The common language spoken in Thailand is Thai hence making the Thai people. The country is endowed with many natural resources as well as agricultural products such as rice in which Thailand is the largest world exporter of rice (Cummings, 2000, p.211).
Thus, rice is the staple food of the Thai people and especially the jasmine variety of rice which makes up the largest portion of the Thai cuisine. The Thai cuisine is known internationally because of the seasoning combination used.
As a matter of fact, it is a blend of all the five key tastes namely spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet. The Thai cuisine is made up rice (Known as Khao in Thailand) that is served with other accompanying dishes made of sauces, salads and curries among others (Kahrs, 2000, p. 76).
Its role, image and use
Social occasions in Thailand are not complete without the Thai cuisine. As a matter of fact, food in Thailand can be a reason to hold celebrations, something that is very unusual in other nations. Apart from rice forming part of every meal in Thailand, it plays a great role in earning foreign income to the country.
This is because, it exports rice to the world market and because of its high quality it has high demand in the market thus fetching much income (Schmidt, 2005, p.1). Rice has on the other hand created an image of Thailand globally. Thailand is among the first nations that people think of when you mention rice.
History of rice in Thailand
For a long period of time rice has formed the heart of every meal in Thailand. Rice is said to have its origin in the Asian arc, from where it spread to other continents. However, the Thailand people have their own history with regard to the origin of rice.
They claim that Lord Vishnu is the one who gave birth to rice thereafter the people were taught how to raise the rice by a God called Indra (Huke and Huke, 1990, p.1). It is because of this that the growth of rice in Thailand is considered as a holistic activity despite its economic and health benefits.
Social and cultural roles of the Rice in Thailand
Rice plays a big role in terms of social and cultural functions among the Thai people. It is the main food consumed during their social occasions and gatherings. As mentioned above, the practice of growing rice in Thailand is not only for health and economic benefits but it is also a cultural practice. It is the food that is used in shrines to give to the Thai gods.
Studies done have also indicated that the spirit of rice is usually attached to the rice fields hence making rice a holistic commodity in Thailand. It is because of this that throwing away rice in Thailand is a taboo, which if gone against may lead to bad omen to the land.
The native food of Thailand has religious uses in that there is the ‘god of rice’ who gets very annoyed whenever rice is thrown away. The god of rice may cause bad luck or even phenomena such as famine whenever he is angry. It is therefore a taboo to throw away food and especially rice in Thailand.
Because of this, most of the restaurants in Thailand have employed a deity who keeps watch as people eat to ensure that no food with rice is thrown away. In addition to this, since most people in Thai are Buddhists, they make food offerings in the temple which comprises of rice to feed the spirits.
From the above discussion it can be clearly seen that rice plays a great role among the people of Thailand as their staple or native food. This importance ranges from economic, food, social and cultural benefits. It has also been seen that rice is the forms the heart of the Thai cuisine (Schmidt, 2005, p.1).
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However, due to relations with their neighbouring countries, the Thailand cuisine has had variations as compared to the traditional cuisine. This is because of the cultural influences from those countries. Nevertheless, the influences have not had much effect because the Thai cuisine is still internationally famous for its unique taste.
Cummings, J. (2000). World Food Thailand. Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications
Huke, R. and Huke, H. (1990). A Brief History of Rice. Web.
Kahrs, K. (2003). Thai Cooking. Dallas: Hackberry Press.
Schmidt, D. (2005). Thai Food and Culture. Retrieved from https://www.thespruceeats.com/thai-food-and-culture-3217393