Call this an unpopular opinion, but the only reason we enjoy Thai food is because we’re basic, spoiled and lazy. Soz.
You know what, Australia? You and I are going to have to have a little chat.
We’re extremely spoiled in the culinary sense. It’s probably the social label that best fits the “lucky country” stereotype. Even prior to the expansion of Uber into our lounge rooms, our dining options were numerous. The idea of the hunter-gatherer drew its final breath on Australian soil. As evidence to this claim, I’m a slight trudge away from my favourite Italian restaurant, a place with walls of American-made chintzy movie paraphernalia and Chinese cooks in the kitchen. Straya. Our morning jaunts are highlighted by the pork rolls of Vietnam, our early morning returns punctuated by the kebabs of Turkey. It’s just what we do. Unlike the Americans, whose “cuisine” is a more a challenge than a diet, and the English who stubbornly cling to the empire of outdated gastronomic fare (see: blood sausage and/or spotted dick), it is this land that has thinned out the weak, the antiquated and the blergh, to promote only the best, replete with the greatest coffee culture in the world, for realsies.
All of this has made us lazy. I don’t blame us; having too many options pushes us to our defaults, to save us from having to make a decision. It’s invariably why every citizen of their salt will order butter chicken in an Indian restaurant; it’s not that we’re uncultured, it’s that its fudging good. All of this is fine, but it brings me to my point: in this lonely pursuit of mastication we’ve inadvertently fallen into the repeat company of a terrible lover, one we elevate by virtue of the fact that they always answer our “you still up” SOS messages at 3am.
I’m just going to say it. The only reason why we love Thai food is its accessibility. We know that it is DTF (down to feast), but beyond that, it is chronically overrated, and not worthy of our efforts. We choose it to save ourselves from making a choice. Let me take it further. In the greater pantheon of Asian food, Thai is the second husband. It’s the Bill Shorten of dinnertime. We know what we’re getting, and we know it’s actually quite bland, but we choose it because our alternatives could backfire. It could be worse, and we don’t want to be saddled with that responsibility.
The peddlers of Thai food are smart. See how the chopsticks were only added to the table after white people kept asking for them? Thai food is the Las Vegas of cuisine. A place for us to travel to, a place that is the same enough to seem just a little different. Let me hit you with some knowledge. It’s the countries of a culinary standard that we truly rate that we freely travel to (and travel to for the food). Who among you has travelled to Thailand for the cuisine? Other reasons, sure. But not the food. The obvious point is that it is plainly terrible compared to what else is offered by the region. Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Malaysian, Nepalese all tower over the fruits of Thailand’s fuckery. Tofu and disappointment. There’s a reason why you always order more rice.
There’s a quote that a dead drug addict once wrote, in that “naked lunch is the moment where everyone sees what is actually on the end of their forks”.
All I’m saying, is the next time we’re thumbing our menus, try a little harder.
We’ve earned that.