In the West, a “normal” restaurant meal consists of a starter followed by the main course and dessert, with each individual ordering only for him or herself. In Thailand, there is no such thing as a starter; neither is there any dish that belongs only to one person. As a general rule, Thai diners order the same number of dishes as people present; however, all dishes are shared and enjoyed together. For this reason, it is better to have many guests at the table rather than just one or two. In fact, many Thais believe that eating alone is bad luck.

After the meal is over, there is no such thing as dispensing with leftovers. Throwing food away enrages the Thai “god of rice”, a female deity who watches over the people, ensuring everyone has enough to eat. Bad luck or even widespread famine may then ensue.

A typical Thai meal includes four main seasonings: salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. Indeed, most Thai dishes are not considered satisfying unless they combine all four tastes. When eating out, a group of Thai diners would order a variety of meat and/or fish dishes, plus vegetables, a noodle dish, and possibly soup. Dessert may consist simply of fresh fruit, such as pineapple, or something more exotic, such as colorful rice cakes, depending on the region.

How do you like to eat Thai food?