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January’s Thai culinary ‘Website of The Month’ is www.thaitable.com

 

22This month’s recommended website about Thai cuisine is www.thaitable.com. And it’s almost perfect. It’s definitely one of the best I’ve come across and scores exceptionally highly on my rule-of-thumb scale of things I look for.

Basically, there are five main features a good Thai food website should have: 1) Plenty of recipes, and not just the usual favourites but some evidence of creativity. 2) Good quality pictures of the finished dishes to give you an idea about presentation. 3) The site has to be well laid out and easy to navigate. 4) Additional information about, for instance, Thai ingredients, how to order food in Thai, cultural aspects of Thailand or related articles. 5) And it’s always interesting to know about who manages and contributes to the site and get a sense that they really know and care about what they are talking about.

Thaitable.com has all of those features, and more. When you open up on the homepage you’ll see sections for favourite recipes, food and travel articles, blogs, getting started (if you’re reasonably new to cooking Thai food), information about the authors plus another seven tabs along the top which are self-explanatory. Click on the first of these, ‘Recipes’, where there’s an overview and around 75 recipes divided into logical sections. Open up any one of them and you’ll get the name of the dish and how to say it in Thai, a list of ingredients and the methodology, half-a-dozen pictures showing different stages of preparation and a link to similar types of recipes. They’re all very straight forward and it’s hard to go wrong.

Move onto the next tab, ‘Ingredients’ and you’ll find that there’re 130 listed! Each has its name in English and Thai with an explanation of what it is, when it’s in season and some tips on using the particular item. It’s a very well-thought-out list and it’s clear the author knows exactly what she’s talking about. Next we have a tab called ‘Learning’ and it has three interesting articles. The first is about how you can save money by shopping at Asian markets at home; the second is the ‘Siam Weight-loss Diet’, which is a really good explanation of why, despite an excess of great food, Thailand is a nation of thin people; and the third is a philosophical look at the fundamental differences between Thai and Western meals.

Beside that we have a tab entitled ‘Cooking’ including a series of articles and editorials covering subjects such as cooking equipment, how to choose the best tools for your kitchen and vegetarian Thai food ideas. And then there’re two tabs, ‘Markets’ and ‘Restaurants’ which allow you to search for them by name or zip/post-code. This is an American-based site but they also have listings for the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Neither is comprehensive and a ‘Google’ search for a specific town or city near you would probably yield better results. For instance, they list 25 Thai restaurants in the San Francisco area. A quick web search gave me a list of 78 in the same area, but at least they have made an effort.

Finally, there’s a tab called ‘Travel’ that includes some more articles about the author’s return visits to Thailand in which she talks about street food-vendors, deep-fried bugs and outdoor markets. You may notice at the very bottom of every page there’s a small link called ‘About Us’. Click on this and you’ll see that the site is written by Natty Netsuwan and Peter Kuykendall. She was born and brought up in Thailand and moved to the US in the 1980s and he’s likely her partner. They started the site in 1999 after repeated requests from friends to share their recipes and experiences of Thailand.

Thaitable.com is a very good one-stop shop for Thai recipes and insider information about Thai culture. It easily makes my top five Thai food websites and I heartily recommend it.

 


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