Pad Thai: The Noodle Dish that Helped Build a Nation

ChickenPadThai -CookinGenie

23 Dec 2020

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Pad Thai: The Noodle Dish that Helped Build a Nation

For many people, pad Thai—the delectable sweet, sour, and spicy stir fry of rice noodles, tofu, eggs, veggies, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, and an umami-rich sauce that can be found on the menu of virtually every Thai restaurant in the US—is their first taste of Thai cooking.  

So, it’s interesting to learn that the dish that most Americans think of as the quintessential Thai food didn’t even exist until the mid-20th century 

In her book Materializing Thailandnutritional anthropologist Penny Van Esterik says that the dish was born out of prime minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram’s campaign throughout the 1930s and 40s to build a national identity for Thailand. Hoping to create a sense of pride in “Thai-ness” by uniting his country through culture, he changed the nation’s name from Siam to Thailand,  commissioned a new national anthem, banned local languages and dialects from schools, and set out to create a national dish.

(Also ReadTracing Tacos – A Journey Through Time)

Curiously, the main ingredient in the dish that Phibunsongkhramwho was known as Phibunpromoted isn’t even native to Thailand. Stir-fried rice noodles originated in China and were introduced to the kingdom of Siam by Chinese traders in the 1700s. But promoting a stir-fried noodle dish helped solve a serious problem that Phibun’s nation was facing: flooding and war had caused severe rice shortage, and encouraging people to eat noodles helped preserve the country’s precious rice supply.2 Phibun’s administration took the basic recipe for stir fried rice noodles and loaded it up with nutritious bean sprouts, onions, peanuts, eggs, meats, and a tamarind-based sauce, then encouraged vendors to sell the dish from street carts all over the country. It was, Phibun’s son later pointed out, the first fast food in Thailand.3   

Phibun’s efforts to make pad Thai part of his country’s heritage succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Today, it is a staple of the Thai dietBeyond Thailand, it has become a beloved dish worldwide: In 2011, pad Thai ranked number 5 in CNN Go’s reader poll of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods.”4 Wondering how this simple noodle dish became an international culinary superstarMark Padoongpatta professor of Asian and Asian American studies at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the author of a history of Thai food, says this, too, was driven by the Thai government as an act of culinary diplomacy: in an effort to stimulate exports and encourage tourism, it established the Global Thai Restaurant Company, Ltd. to train chefs and send them around the world to open Thai restaurants5.     

And now, CookinGenie brings this beloved classic noodle dish tyour house. We offer three varieties of classic pad Thai—Chicken, Shrimp, and Vegetarian—cooked from scratch with wholesome, authentic ingredients like rice noodles, sweet-and-sour tamarind paste, spicy chile-garlic paste, and Thai preserved radish. Book your Genie to bring a true taste of Thailand to your very own kitchen. 


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It’s not catering. It’s not meal kits. It’s not food delivery. It’s not frozen 500 miles away.

It’s made fresh with ingredients from your neighborhood grocery. Enjoy it fresh for lunch or dinner, or as leftovers after. CookinGenie is ideal for you, your family & small parties of less than ten people.

How does it work? Go online to CookinGenie.com and select your dish and a time for our Genies to come to your very own house and cook JUST for you, your family & perhaps a few friends. Then all you have to do is sit back & relax.

Wait, who are our Genies you ask? They are experienced cooks who make delicious foods. Some of them have worked in restaurants before. How do we know about their cooking? Simple, we taste their foods before they cook for you.

A restaurant inside your home. The world on your taste buds (yes we have cooks from diverse backgrounds). More YOU time, while dinner is taken care of.

Check us out today. Book a time with one of our Genies – then sit back & watch us conjure up your dinner. Sounds too good to be true? Yes…. it’s magical. Visit Now: cookingenie.com

 

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