Thailand is all about entertainment, fun fun fun, and more than anything else, that means food, both within country and without. Hardly a word gets spoken or a song gets sung in Thailand without the obligatory munchies to accompany it. Thais make Italians look like dilettantes around a table. The first Thai restaurant opened its doors in LA in the early 1980’s, and the rest is history. Thais may be a little slow off the starting block, but they’re experts at emulating a successful formula. The Thai word for ‘recipe’ in fact is the same as for a course of study, derived from the Sanskrit word ‘sutra’. Thai food is some of the best in the world, but deviate from a recipe and you can hear grumbling around the table. It became what it is by incorporating the local dishes from the areas they populated and conquered, and the influences absorbed and incorporated. Thus Malaysian curries became Thai curries, though that fact would likely never be acknowledged in polite company. ‘Thai-ness’ is a very dearly held concept, sacrosanct and inviolable. Nevertheless, these dishes are largely unknown in non-Siamese, though very ‘Tai’, Laos, Shan state Burma, Xishuangbanna China, and northwestern Vietnam, and the process has become extinct and the results standardized, in Thailand itself. To me the best cooks would create spontaneous masterpieces with no recipe at all. The first food to have been cooked anywhere in the world may well have occurred in what is now Guangdong, China, likely the ancestral home of the Thai.