Get To Know Thai Royal Food
Thai Royal Food
Portrays the nine Thai kings of the Chakri dynasty (Thailand)
Chulalongkorn the Great and his Family
Rama IX Visits Buckingham Palace, 1960
Grand Palace, Cakri - Mahaprasad Hall - Bangkok, Thailand
This time has many culture exchage between Siam and Foreigners that was coming to trade for moreover 100 years ago. Siam has many nationality such as Protugal, Japan, Chaina, Persia, Hollanda and Youn and somebody is governor and soldier cause cooking has many ingredients were changed. Thai Royal Food was praised to be a highness food that was cooked for the King and his royal family. Then we could to know about culture, class and the way of living from food.
The Nobility of Siam
The Siameses system of nobility is very complex and is determined solely by relationship to the king- the ranking of nobles is often revised accordingly on the accession of a new king. The various grades of nobility diminish with each subsequent generation. To explain as simply as possible: there are seven ranks, begining with the king; then come his children, styled somdet chao faa ('celestial prince or princess'), or a variation of this depending on the rank of the mother; then pra ong chao; a child of pra ong chao is mom chao. All these are ranked as royalty, with its attendant privileges and courtesies-a special language, rachasap, is even used when addressing such aristocrats. Lesser titles follow: mom ratchawongse and finally mom leuang, which is the lowest degree of nobility before a person is considered a commoner.
This system, from king to commoner in seven generations, ensured that Siam was not congested with royalty. Nevertheless, Siam was certainly culttered with nobles, an old saying observing, 'If you throw a stone in Siam you will either hit a prince, a monk or a dog,' And no matter whom the stone might hit, it would probably land in a palace. Bangkok in the ate nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a city of palaces, the households of royalty and other nobles, descendants of previous kings, high ministers of state and the rich.
These palaces were the bastions of high Siamese culture, where gentle and ancient arts were taught to the next generation. The princesses sponsored this inheritance a custom dating from the time when Khmer princesses had helped civilise the ancient Thai. In This rarefied milieu traditional arts were maintained and refined. The curriculum of culture would include preparing betel nuts, cooking, braiding flowers, weaving and making perfumes. It was delicate work that entertained and diverted, but often was worth nothing more than the delight it brought. The hallmarks of success and culture were painstaking skill and dexterity. The complicated became admired and difficult tasks were aspired to. A girl as young as three years old might be admitted to a palace, and during her life would rarely leave it, unless to marry. Thus her inventiveness and skills, while highly developed, were often without any reference to the outside world.
The Skills and Cuisine of the Palaces
Thai Food that was well-known to be Thai Royal Food has principle from fineness, nicety and creative thinking of ladies on the former times. Including with nicety of every step to choosing raw meterial and step to flavor to each food and dessert. Thai Royal Food not only had full-flavoured whenever you tasted it, so beautiful like a masterpiece of the art and it's a standard of the Art of eating. Moreover they are believe that royal kitchen rise from a long times inherit of knowing, both of learning process and secret key that was different from each of royal residence.
Each Palace prided itself on its reputation for skill and zealously upheld it. Every task inhabitants undertook would be an indication of this. Competitions were often held between palaces, to stimulate and increase the complexity of various skills. These were quite famous and even 'the outside' would learn outcome and the names of the winners, who were an adept at their crafts. Sometimes children were sent to those triumphant palaces specifically to learn from famed practitioners. This would, of course, enhance the reputation of the palace and the prestige of its owner.
In the palaces, great store was put on teaching the art of mixing and rolling betel nuts in just the right proportions to obtain a lingering savour. Poor or rich, all Thai indulged in chewing betel nuts, a national habit since time immemorial. The areca nut is boiled, dried, sliced and mixed with pink hydrolysed lime, then smeared onto a betel leaf that tive taste. This slightly narcotic pastime has the unprepossessing result of making the teeth appear like shiny ebony, and staining the mouth and lips a bloody rouge. Often the Thai, enamoured by early portraits and daguerreotypes of European women, were beguiled by the colour of their lips, assuming that this was due to betel nuts.
One particularly daunting culinary skill involved removing the seeds of a custard apple and then reassembling it. Difficult enough once peeled, but the competition evolved to such levels that the more dexterous women could remove the seeds without having to peel the fruit. Only the smallest slit of skin would be lifted, then the seeds would be removed with a splinter of bamboo, so the custard apple would be left seedless but with its skin miraculously intact. Meals were prepared with the same awesome prowess.
Although the ladies of the court were confined to 'the inside' and far removed from the worldly concerns of the nearby outer court of the king and government, they were aware of matters of state and proceedings at court. Increasingly, banquets were held in the Western manner, with a stately progression of course after lavish course. The cuisine was French, in the opulent style of the belle èpoque, and menu could include such dishes as grilled venison with caper sauce or goose with beetroot. Intrigued by this novel way of cooking, the ladies attempted to cook some of the dishes, but with decidedly peculiar results. Western cooks were engaged to teach this strange cuisine, and soon the the various dishes were being interpreted in a singularly Siamese way. Unorthodox creations included pork liver mousse, served with rice cakes as an hors d'oeuvre or spooned into clear soups; braised ox tongue and potatoes with star anise; and, to finish, coconut or lemon basil seed ice-cream.
Traditionally the daytime meals in palaces were quite insubstantial, as the enervating tropical heat reduced eating to a mere nibble. When the day began to cool, appetites were rekindled. Around four in the afternoon, the first of series of ornate snacks left the kitchens. These were complicated sweetmeats designed to delight and stimulate: crispskinned coconut cup cakes topped with minced prawn, pork or chicken stir-fried with curry paste; jade-coloured glutinous rice covered with sweetened dried fish; rice perfumed with flowers and garnished with salted shrimp. Perhaps an exquisitely refined dish of iced perfumed rice with several complicated garnishes might be served, or sweetened glutinous rice with egg custard, or black glutinous rice dressed with caramel. To these ladies the mixing of sweet and savoury flavours, which were served simultaneously or even in the one dish, was a delicious, entertaining pleasure, not a confusion.
Dinner was served in the cool of the evening, at sunset. It was the culinary highlight of the day. Rice was served with several exquisite accompanying dishes. An elegant curry, a pungent relish, a soothing soup and salad would be eaten. In the rarefied atmosphere of the palaces of Siam, the normal was transformed into the extraordinary: this is what so distinguishes this food from that of 'the outside'. All the ingredients were of premium quality the rice was harvested from the best areas, seasonal fish were freshly caught or perfectly preserved. Strange and exotic tastes were eagerly sought to surprise and satisfy cultivated palates. The food was cooked with great skill and care, and with full regard to the rank of the people for whom it was prepared. Finely sliced and shredded ingredients were combined and cooked with precision, the tastes and textures were refined and enhanced and then the final seasoning was deftly execulted, delicately calculated to balance and draw the cooking to a poised conclusion.
Great delight was taken in combining food into new and unusual combinations, like a red beef curry garnished with a small dish of deep-fried clams, or a green peppercorn curry served with crisp-fried salted squid. Vegetables that accompanied a relish were intricately carved, so that cucumbers resembled small mango leaves and eggplants blossomed like flowers. A gentle, clear soup might be served in a small, sculpted melon casing. All these dishes were accompanied by rice, which would arrive glisteningly white, unseasoned and unadorned.
Desserts, for some the pinnacle of the cuisine, arrived on a separate platter tender and golden threads of duck egg yolk perfumed with jasmine flowers, a rich pudding redolent with coconut cream and palm sugar, and fruit simmered in fragrant coconut cream or glistening in iced sugar syrups.
The art of perfuming was considered an essential skill for the women of the palaces. They created alluring colognes, primarily to infuse clothing-but these also came to be used in cooking. Ingredients included fragrant herbs, flowers and barks, such as pandanus, kaffir lime leaves, jasmine, ylang ylang, hibiscus, eaglewood, sandalwood and camphor from the northern forests; and essential oils from animals, such as beeswax, even chamot, the secretions from Burmese and Chinese civets and musk oils from stages- the basis of most traditional perfumes.
The already refined cooking of 'the inside' reached new heights when it was an adjunct to celebration and ceremony. Mom Leuang Neuang Ninrat recorded the excited anticipation of the ladies as they prepared for Songkran, the Thai New Year. This was not the boisterous and often hilarious water festival that now saturates modern Thailand. Originally it was a gentle affair to welcome in the lunar year. The palace was cleaned and food prepared in readiness. Smoked rice biscuits were made to please the departed ancestors, and coconut toffee for the living. In the morning, food was presented to monks, and then the forehead of each person was anointed with perfumed lustral water by the head of the house, to cleanse them of their previous year's transgressions. Sometimes a palace would receive visitors, relatives mainly, coming to pay respect. After such formal courtesies were completed, the guests were often invited to eat.
This Challenged the kitchen, as all its expertise was called upon. Mom Leuang Neuang recalls a dish where salted chicken was braised with sugar cane, finely shredded and then dry-fried in a brass wok over a very low heat while the meat was picked and teased apart by hand until it was a dried floss of diaphanous caramelised strands. When cool, it was tossed with deep-fried shallots before being sprinkled over thin, shapely slices of rice cake. Rose petals were individually dipped into thick, perfumed syrup, cooled, then reassembled into a fleetingly crisp bloom, a remarkable decoration for a plate of confectionery.
Although, there were distinct and very different standards of living between palace and paddy, much of Thai cooking, its styles, ingredients and recipes, was similar. Palace food only differed from that of other classes in the intricate techniques employed, the refined tastes and the elaborate presentations. A green curry, for example, would have been-and still is-immediately recognisable wherever it was cooked, regardless of its presentation.
In the legislative past of most countries there have been 'sumptuary laws' regulating the indulgences of the rich. Clothes, jewels and glassware have at some time been subject to such laws. Food, too, has been subject to such restrictive, often puratanical laws. In Europe during the fifteenth century, the ingredients, the array of dishes and the ostentatious display that could in all propriety be allowed during a meal were wet out in law. All ranks had their rights and privileges duly prescribed. Furthermore, gaming, poaching and, later enclosing laws ensured that certain foods-or at least their provenance-remained in the exclusive domain of the propertied classes.
Similar laws were proclaimed in Siam during the reign of Rama III. Tellingly, they conncerned the display of food-not the ingredients, but the accoutrements on which dishes were servved. Solid gold or sterling silver were for those of very high rank, but these laws were, in fact, rarely enforced as usually only those of the appropriate rank could afford to eat off gold. All Thai were free to eat any ingredient, if they could afford it.
- David Thompson, Thai food, Penguin Books, Australia, 2002
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