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Discover Thailand: Seasonal celebrations and more!

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Thai cuisine varies significantly from region to region and includes influences from Portugal, France, Japan, the Netherlands, India, and China. However, they all contain the same components of traditional Thai cuisine. Historically, meals consisted of seafood, plants, and herbs being stewed, baked, or grilled. With the migration of Chinese people around 600 A.D., frying, stir-frying, and deep-frying food became more prevalent. 

Previously meals were eaten on the floor while sitting on mats; today, depending on the region, dining tables are used. Despite heavy Chinese influences, chopsticks are hardly ever used except for heavy noodle dishes. Instead, Thais mainly utilize spoons and fork for eating the majority of their meals, with the assistance of a serving spoon to help separate meat and No knives, please! As for what’s on America’s menu, Thai curries, pad thai (fried noodles), and Khao pad (fried rice) are popular favorites, but street food has become an everyday staple all around Thailand, especially in the capital city of Bangkok.

Street food stalls in Thailand have become such a popular site, and there are areas of the capital that are famous for the food they serve! Though not fully adopted by native Thais until the 1960s, street food began to explode onto the scene due to rapid urban expansion and population growth. By the 1970s, the convenience of street food was very popular with many Thai workers and became their “go-to” for a quick and easy meal.

If you were to traverse the streets of Bangkok, you’d find an assortment of ready-to-eat, and made-to-order foods such as Pad Thai, various types of satay (skewered meat), or even fried insects! It wouldn’t be uncommon to find a dish with an accompanying sauce such as a Thai coconut peanut sauce or a spicy Thai chili sauce. Try some of our recipes from the cooking school to get a taste of real Bangkok street food!

Thai Chili Sauce

jungles favorite sauce

On an average day, Bangkok is a bustling metropolis buzzing with energy and full of tantalizing sights, sounds, and smells. However, every year on April 13, the city becomes livelier than ever! On this day, the vast majority of Thai people celebrate Songkran, or Thailand’s New Year celebration! Songkran is a term derived from Sanskrit, meaning “astrological passage” or “movement,” referring to the sun’s movement from one position in the zodiac to another. In years past, the celebration took place over three days: April 13, the last day of the old year, April 14, the transition day between old and new years, and April 15, New Year’s day itself. However, in the past few years, the Thai government has extended the length of the holiday! 

As Songkran approaches, Thais have a long list of customs and ways to celebrate the holiday, depending on the region. Generally, Thais clean their house before the festival, because all work halts in the country in honor of the holiday. They also release birds, fish, buffaloes, and cows as a form of merit offering, or a good deed done in the hopes of increasing good karma. In addition to releasing animals, Thai people pour water on statues of Buddha, and scented water over the hands of their elders as an expression of respect, and in return, their elders wish them good luck and prosperity. Thai people believe the pouring of water signifies washing away evil thoughts and actions and will bring them good luck in the new year. Presently the most important holiday in the country, Songkran, is an excellent opportunity for family and friends to get together.

Everyone can agree that this day is about spending time with your family and friends, making offerings to those around you, and carrying good fortune into the new year. If you’d like to try celebrating this holiday at home, make a meal and offer it to your family! Try our Thai coconut chicken, served with rice! If you’re new to the rice game, or even if you’re a seasoned pro, don’t be afraid to brush up on your rice cooking skills to get perfect, fluffy rice, ideal for a great meal with your family.

Perfect Rice

This year, we’re getting ready for Songkran all month long with Discoveries at the Jungle: Thailand, with foods and items from all around this Southeast Asian country. We’d love to see you in-store. Please stop by our Discoveries at the Jungle kiosk to pick up everything you need for a Songkran celebration or to try something new. Then, we would appreciate it if you send us a message on Facebook, Tweet at us @JungleJimsmrkt, or tag us on Instagram @JungleJimsMarket!

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