6 thoughts on “Thai Cuisine”

  1. I, for one, welcome the gastrodiplomacy. I spent almost seven years of my childhood in Thailand, in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai in the north. The big treat of the week was my parents giving me two baht to go through the field behind the school, through the neighborhood in back of that, and across the street to the food stand for a bowl of khao soi. They served it with charcoal braised waffles, and it was heaven. My brother used to insist on a bowl of kwiteeu (sp?) rather frequently, which he bought from the noodle stand outside the U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai.

    When we returned to the States there was one Thai restaurant in the Washington area. It was far away. For a while we lived that nightmare, then one opened on Connecticut Avenue and things started looking up. Now, of course, they’re everywhere and all is right with the world.

    Even as a free market hardliner, I’m not going to complain about this bit of government intervention.

  2. The article itself mentions other governments making culinary efforts, but it sounds like the Thais have the most advanced and extensive effort.

    Countries do have other cultural diplomacy efforts besides food. For example, the spreading of Korean TV dramas is a direct effect of Korean government policy. While most government international media efforts are propaganda, South Korea has mostly been trying to expand its media industry exports.

  3. Does any other country do this?

    The article specifically mentions both North and South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Peru.

    If one can analogize restaurants to ordnance, my SoCal town seems to be on the target lists of several of these gustatory initiatives. The area has long had a plethora of Japanese and Chinese restaurants dating back to well before WW2. In the 30-odd years I’ve been here, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai places have proliferated as well.

    The Malaysians don’t seem to have a significant footprint here yet, but the Peruvians have definitely arrived. And all their establishments bill themselves as chicken restaurants. Considering how relatively little of the L.A. area’s Hispanic population is Peruvian, they are definitely over-represented.

    Mexican eateries, of course, are six the ha’penny and – owing to immigration numbers rather than home-country government initiatives – so are Salvadoran and Honduran places. It’s only a little more difficult to get a pupusa than a taco or burrito hereabouts.

    They don’t really count as foreign, I guess, but there are also several Hawaiian restaurants nearby as well a number of places serving soul food and the cuisine of the American South.

    There’s more than a little cross-culturalism in the food trade here too. My favorite Chinese place, for example, is run by a Cambodian family. Cambodians punch well above their weight in the donut shop business out here too. Recently, a new buffet place opened that features mostly pan-Asian seafood dishes, but also some Latin and Cajun stuff and even things one usually associates with Europe like mussels.

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