I have yet to meet a Thai person who is not passionate about their food. From small street stalls to five star rooftop restaurants, Thai people expect the flavours of their food to be right. And with good result. I rate Thai cuisine as one of the top five in the world (with French, Italian, Lebanese and Vietnamese)!
Thais will tell you passionately where the best place in their city is to buy sticky rice or Som Tam (Spicy PawPaw/Papaya Salad) or Kai Pad Med Mamuang Himmapan (Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts):
They will also tell you with derision, their horror at eating Thai food in many places outside Thailand. Thais almost seem to compete with their horror stories of how bad a version of Tom Yam Goong (Spicy Prawn/Shrimp Soup) is they found in Sydney or London or Los Angeles.
This was illustrated to me when the closest Thai restaurant to me in Australia changed management. Overnight, the restaurant went from being packed with Thai people to a ghost land. Nothing could replace the grandmother who used to supervise the kitchen ensuring every dish was of Thai standard.
Now, the Government of Thailand has stepped in to save the palates of the world from bad Thai food. They have funded the development of two tasting robots, E-delicious and ESenS. (I checked multiple times that this was not an April 1 joke!).
The two robots are the size of an average computer printer and use gas and electronic sensors to mimic the human nose and tongue. They measure sweetness, spiciness, sourness, saltiness and taste of the foods giving a rating out of 100%. Any score less than 85% indicates that the food has deviated too far and is “not worthy” to be called Thai!
The Thai National Innovation Agency (NIA) worked with universities and the private and public sectors to create the standard taste, look and PH balance of eleven Thai recipes. These recipes have been taste tested with the public from across Thailand. They form the basis of the robotic tasting. More recipes will be added.
As you can imagine, this development has spurred a furious war of words with some supporting the development and others protesting. Personally, I prefer word of mouth and yelp.com!
What do you think?