What's your favorite spicy food

Eating Spicy in Thailand: 6 Myths and Facts

Today we would like to tackle a topic that of course also belongs to Thai food. Unfortunately, when it comes to spicy food in Thailand, there are many prejudices and half-truths that we finally want to clarify.

Information and facts about spicy Thai food

Of course everyone has their own experience on a Thailand vacation and depending on where he or she is going, these experiences are different. It also depends on where you eat in Thailand. It makes a big difference if you're in Germany going to a Thai restaurant or in Thailand eats in a food stall. There are sometimes huge differences in terms of sharpness.

We hope this article on spicy food in Thailand can enlighten you a little and dispel any prejudice or myth.


1. Spiciness is a taste

It is important to clarify the following first: Sharp is no flavor. Roughly speaking, spiciness is just a pain and not a real taste like sweet, sour, bitter, salty or “umami”.

Chilies trigger a kind of chemical reaction in the mouth that leads to pain and heat. So there is no spicy flavor. But the fact is that the sharpness as a kind Flavor enhancers can serve. This happens due to the increased blood flow and thus sensitivity of the taste buds, which is caused by chillies.

2. Everything about Thai food is excessively spicy

Many think that all Thai dishes are spicy. While this is indeed the case for many dishes, there are also a number of non-spicy alternatives. Pad Thai is just one of them and probably the best known. In addition, the following often applies: You can also season a dish that is not spicy with chillies or chilli powder. This is often done with noodle soups or fried rice.

So: If you absolutely can't handle spiciness, you don't have to worry about a trip to Thailand. In addition, you can usually order dishes that are actually fried with chilies as a non-spicy variant. When ordering in English, you just say "Not spicy" or in Thai mai pet. You can find more language tips here.

3. All Thais only eat spicy food

This myth is also there absolutely wrong. Not everyone in Thailand eats spicy! Of course, this also depends a little on the region where the person comes from. But we know some Thais personally who cannot eat spicy food and do without it at all. That being said, toddlers in Thailand don't eat spicy either, of course.

At the same time there is a myth on the Thai side that no Farang (the Thai word for a foreigner) can eat spicy. Tobi and I have eaten spicy since our first trip to Thailand and we can handle a relatively high level of spiciness. In the past, this often led to very incredulous and surprised looks among Thais. Especially when a handful of chilies are in the Som Tam or we in the south take a portion as a matter of course Gaeng Som (sour, spicy curry) ordered.

However, because this is often the case with the spiciness among foreigners, Thais will in most cases prepare your dish less spicy than for other Thais. Even if you are in Thai with the words pet pet If you order, it is not guaranteed that you will get the real Thai spiciness. More on this in the last point.

4. Eating spicy is healthy

The fact is, spicy food has a positive effect on your mood. In short: spicy food makes you feel like you are happy. And what makes you happy can only be healthy. This is due to the endorphins produced by the pain stimulus (caused by Capsaicin) are released in the brain. The spiciness is also considered antibacterial and stimulates blood circulation, which are all very positive aspects. In summary, it can be said that “spicy food” can be quite healthy.

Incidentally, this even goes so far that some Thais have a kind of addiction to the spiciness. We ourselves know Thai women who struggle with the spiciness of food, but still enjoy it to the full and order it again and again. Your body probably just needs the endorphins.

5. Eating spicy is a matter of habit

Yes, it's true: you can eat spicy learn. As mentioned at the beginning, it is just a pain and your pain perception can be "trained". The more often you eat chillies, the less spicy they will seem to you over a longer period of time. So you can then increase the "dose". The other way around, if you don't eat spicy for a long time, your sensitivity to spiciness increases again. For example, I notice this after every long stay in Germany when I'm back in Thailand.

6. There is spicy and there is spicy!

As mentioned in point 3, foreigners are often served significantly milder food than Thais. Even if this you eat spicy or pet pet order, there is rarely the full strength. If you are traveling with Thais, have them order for you. Then you also get the real "Thai Flavor".

As another tip, we can give you the so-called Khao Rad Gaeng Recommend stalls at markets etc. The dishes there are pre-cooked and made for the local palate rather than for tourists. So you are guaranteed to get the full spiciness there, at least with some dishes.

If you've really overdone it with the sharpness and your mouth burns too much, it will help by the way no cold water. This does not combat the spiciness, it just spreads it around the mouth. Cold milk, yogurt or a sweet Thai dessert based on coconut milk can help.

Do you like it spicy? Here we briefly list 9 dishes that you should definitely try in Thailand:

Do you also like spicy in Thailand? What was your first spicy dish?

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Moin, I am Marcel! Blogger, author, web & graphic designer and digital nomad. I prefer to travel through Southeast Asia and discover beautiful beaches and delicious food there. My home base is Koh Phangan, Thailand. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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