It is now one of the most important ingredients in Thai cuisine, together with rice. During the Columbian Exchange, Portuguese and Spanish ships brought new crops from the Americas including tomatoes, corn, papaya, pea eggplants, pineapple, pumpkins, culantro, cashews, and peanuts. Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand. Thai food was traditionally eaten with the right hand while seated on mats or carpets on the floor, customs still found in the more traditional households. Some westerners think it's a jumble of flavours, but to a Thai that's important, it's the complexity they delight in". Thai cuisine is one of the most popular cuisine in the world.
Traditionally, a meal would have at least five elements: a dip or relish for raw or cooked vegetables (khrueang chim) is the most crucial component of any Thai meal. Khrueang chim, considered a building block of Thai food by Chef McDang, may come in the form of a spicy chili sauce or relish called nam phrik (made of raw or cooked chilies and other ingredients, which are then mashed together), or a type of dip enriched with coconut milk called lon. In the case of Thailand, these words come to mind: intricacy; attention to detail; texture; color; taste; and the use of ingredients with medicinal benefits, as well as good flavor. The other elements would include a clear soup (perhaps a spicy tom yam or a mellow tom chuet), a curry or stew (essentially any dish identified with the kaeng prefix), a deep-fried dish and a stir-fried dish of meat, fish, seafood or vegetables.
These venues have a large display showing the different dishes from which one can choose. It is known for its complex interplay of at least three and up to four or five fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy. When placing their order at these places, Thais will state if they want their food served as separate dishes, or together on one plate with rice (rat khao). They are tom yam goong (4th), pad thai (5th), som tam (6th), massaman curry (10th), green curry (19th), Thai fried rice (24th) and moo nam tok (36th). Many dishes that are now popular in Thailand were originally Chinese dishes. In most Thai restaurants, diners will have access to a selection of Thai sauces (nam chim) and condiments, either brought to the table by wait staff or present at the table in small containers. An alternative is to have one or smaller helpings of curry, stir-fries and other dishes served together on one plate with a portion of rice. The food is pushed by the fork, held in the left hand, into the spoon held in the right hand, which is then brought to the mouth. A traditional ceramic spoon is sometimes used for soup, and knives are not generally used at the table. It is common practice for the both the Thais and the hill tribe peoples who live in north and northeast Thailand, to use sticky rice as an edible implement by shaping it into small, and sometimes flattened, balls by hand (and only the right hand by custom) which are then dipped into side dishes and eaten. Meats used in Thai cuisine are usually pork and chicken, and also duck, beef, and water buffalo.