While Thai food has a reputation for being spicy, Thai food is actually based on a balance between different flavors including spicy, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. This goes beyond simply combining the flavors within an individual dish to incorporate the contrast in flavors between two or three different dishes, which is one reason Thai’s share meals and eat family style.
One distinctive aspect of Thai food is the use of fresh herbs and spices as well as the inclusion of fermented fish sauce in nearly every dish –a potential problem for vegetarians, though saying “jay” to indicate you are vegetarian goes a long way.
Rice is the staple food for Thais, eaten with most meals, from breakfast to dessert.
As Thai meals are typically served family style, with all diners sharing entrees, a Thai curry or soup is usually ordered with a meal.
Thai chili paste, or nam prik, is the base of many Thai dishes, though variations of it are also served as dips. Thai Chili pastes are made by muddling chili, garlic, shrimp paste, lime, and other spices (depending on region of origin). As a dip, it is served along with raw vegetables and occasionally pork rinds.