Nine Thai Tastes
5th Apr 2018
Thai cuisine is not only delicious but is therapeutically valued for its nutritional benefit and its ability to restore balance to the body. Taste holds one of the keys to re-establishing equilibrium which is a core principle in the traditional Thai approach to health. Let me explain.
Attaining balance is the main aim of Thai Traditional Medicine (TTM) and in this way it is more akin though different, to Indian Ayurveda or Chinese Traditional Medicine. The balance of the elements earth, air, water, and fire and the flow of energy through the body are seen as essential for good health.
Each of the four elements governs specific parts of our anatomy and physiology. Each of the nine tastes are associated with an element and can work to restore balance if a particular element is out of kilter. The taste of an herb or food determines the effect it will have on the body.
For example if I suffer from indigestion it may be a lack of ‘fire’ in which case foods that create heat such as chilli may be prescribed, though this is a very simplistic example. A traditional medical practitioner would employ an holistic approach using a variety of tools to diagnose and determine how the imbalance may be best addressed.
There are nine official tastes in Thai Traditional medicine and by association Thai cuisine. They are: astringent, sweet, nauseating, bitter, hot, nutty, fragrant, salty and sour. If you have eaten Thai food you will recognise many of these tastes, as a wealth of foods, herbs and spices are used throughout Thailand. Balance comes into play with the dishes themselves, as getting the balance and intensity of flavours right is the hallmark of great Thai cuisine.
Orthodox Western medicine is practised extensively in Thailand but because the government supports the promotion of indigenous and alternative medicine, traditional methods of healing are also used throughout the country. This is especially important in remote rural areas where access to doctors and hospitals is limited.
As in all places on earth, nature’s intelligence has enabled the evolution of local flora alongside native populations to provide folk remedies for so many common ailments. Thailand has a cornucopia of such knowledge and local plants are the subject of study by visiting academics and researchers from around the world.
Thai people have an ancient knowledge that local plant life is a source of healing and thankfully this knowledge is alive and well today.
For medicinal benefits we highly recommend the Miang Khum starter at the Zen Garden restaurant. Book your table today!
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