Preparing Thai food is as much an expression of Thai philosophy and values as it is the simple act of putting food on the table. It is a reason to gather together and reconnect. A meal in a Thai kitchen becomes an event, where everyone pitches in on the preparation of the various dishes. Much laughter and teasing, as well as secret recipes and ingredients, are traded back and forth.
There are no rigid, absolute rules in Thai cooking. The true art in preparing Thai food lies in attaining a balance of the five flavors (salty, sweet, spicy, sour and bitter) to create a complex harmony of tastes and textures.
This concept also illustrates the Thai appreciation for variety, and an understanding and acceptance of different styles, viewpoints, and cultures. The history of Thai food is itself an example of how ideas from different cultures (curries from India, or sate from Indonesia, for example) have been assimilated into Thai cuisine.
Recipes are often constructed on the fly, with whatever ingredients are available, combined with a keen sense for how their individual flavors will complement each other. This allows for a creativity and flexibility and room for personal expression in every dish.
After all have participated in the fun of preparing, all will share together in enjoying the results of the cook's skill and hard work. The symmetry of the taste and smell senses will be balanced with a visual feast of beautifully presented dishes, often with carved fruits and vegetables.
As always, the main dish is rice. Then the various accompanying dishes are served, and everyone takes a little bit of everything, and the harmony of flavors and feelings that Thai food creates begins to flow again.
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