What sets Thai food apart from many other cuisines is the combination of spicy and sweet flavours in its dishes. This and the fact that it's often garnished with peanuts and elegantly shaped fruits and vegetables.
For those wanting to experience authentic Thai food, there will be plenty of opportunities at the Thai Festival, which takes place next Saturday and Sunday (July 22 and 23) on the recently refurbished north plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The consul general of Thailand in Vancouver, Sutthiluck Sa-ngarmangkang, told the Georgia Straight by phone that two culinary experts from Bangkok will be in town to demonstrate how to cook one typical dish (papaya salad) and one typical dessert (a rice bowl with coconut milk).
“We have food sampling as well,” she said. “And besides the food and cooking demonstration, they will also show how to carve the fruits and vegetables. It’s a very delicate art of the Thai people, to do the food carving.”
One of the hallmarks of Thai food is the use of healthy herbs. According to the consul general, many of Thailand’s favourite dishes will be available at the festival’s 10 food booths, including pad Thai, som tum, green curry, and sticky rice.
She also pointed out that Thai iced tea, which is heavily fortified with milk and herbs, is one of the most popular drinks in the world.
There will also be a royal exhibit honouring King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last October 13 after more than 70 years on the throne. He was succeeded by his only son, the then Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, in December.
Thailand’s population of 70 million is fourth-largest in Southeast Asia, behind Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. About a third of the country’s people are of Central Thai ancestry, with another 24.9 percent being Khon Isan (northeastern Thai) and 9.9 percent Khon Muang (northern Thai). Fourteen percent are Thai Chinese and another 7.5 percent are Southern Thai, with the rest including people of Malay, Mon, and Khmer descent.
This will be the fourth Thai Festival presented by the Royal Thai Consulate General, which opened in Vancouver in December 1996.
In addition to the food products, the festival will also feature a Thai spa, a classical dance troupe from Thailand, and opportunities to learn how to do Thai-style painting.
There will also be prizes awarded, including airline tickets to Thailand, which was Asia Pacific’s most popular tourist destination last year, according to Mastercard. That’s because Thailand had three cities in the top 10 for international overnight arrivals: Bangkok (No. 1), Phuket (No. 6), and Pattaya (No. 8).
With files from Carlito Pablo.