Think you can teach Thais a thing or two about cooking? Think again

Think you can teach Thais a thing or two about cooking? Think again

David Thompson’s Nahm might be winning rave reviews from foreigners, but one Thai food critic tells the New York Times he thinks the Aussie chef has some nerve
Thai cuisine at Nahm
"Foreigners, Thais believe, cannot stomach the spices that fire the best Thai dishes," says the New York Times.

When word hit Bangkok earlier this year that Australian David Thompson, owner of the world’s first Thai restaurant to have a Michelin star, would be opening a branch of his acclaimed Nahm eatery at The Metropolitan, the city’s expats were thrilled.

And since Nahm began serving Thompson's unique takes on Thai cuisine last month, the English-language reviews and online comments from local diners have been fantastic.

But according to an interesting feature in the New York Times, one well-known Thai critic calls Thompson’s aims to put a halt to the “decay” of Thai cuisine and bring back some authenticity a slap in the face for Thai people.

“If you start telling Thais how to cook real Thai food, that’s unacceptable,” food writer Suthon Sukphisit tells the New York Times, though he adds that he hasn’t -- and doesn’t plan to -- even try the food at Nahm.

The NYT article goes on to say Thais are of the opinion that foreigners cannot possibly master the art of Thai cooking “because they did not grow up wandering through vast, wet markets filled with the cornucopia of Thai produce, or pulling at the apron strings of grandmothers and maids who imparted the complex and subtle balance of ingredients required for the perfect curry or chili paste.”

But if Thais can master French, Italian and whatever other global cuisine catches their fancy, why not vice versa?

Thai restaurant Bo.Lan, run by Nahm alumnus Dylan Jones and his Thai partner Duangporn "Bo" Songvisava, has been a huge success since opening in Bangkok last year. And Copenhagen chef Henrik Yde-Andersen has also exported his Michelin-starred Thai fare to Bangkok’s newly opened Siam Kempinski Hotel in the form of Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin.     

So from the looks of things, Thais in Bangkok are going to have to get used to foreigners trying to show them a few new tricks in the kitchen -- whether they like it or not.