Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya Food

   

The geography and environment of an area often have a great influence on the lifestyle of the locals, including the types of food they eat. Ayutthaya sits on a basin plain surrounded by rivers; therefore, its people have an affinity with rice fields and rivers. Local food consists mainly of natural fish and vegetables.

During the reign of King Narai the Great, the French envoy Simon de La Loubère wrote in “A New Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam”, that the rivers of Ayutthaya were filled with fish. While people mainly ate rice and fish, its preparations varied greatly; such as, being boiled, dried and salted or with fresh vegetables from a pond or forest. Meat from the likes of cows, buffalos, pigs or chickens was not very popular.

However, at the time of the mid Ayutthaya period, when international trade was at its peak during the reign of King Narai the Great, there was contact with people from numerous foreign countries; such as, Japan, Portugal and Persia. Their different cultures seeped into Ayutthaya, bringing with them their own flavours of food.

Many modern Thai dishes owe their origins to foreign influences from the Ayutthaya period. Khanom Thong Yip, Khanom Thong Yot, and Foi Thong, just to name a few, all have Portuguese roots. A key figure in helping spread this influence was Marie Guimar de Pinha or Tanquimar, known in Thailand as Thao Thong Kip Ma, who was of mixed Portuguese-Japanese-Bengali ancestry. During her time, she worked in the Royal Palace as the head cook for King Narai the Great. Many of her inventive desserts were the adaptation of Portuguese dishes with local ingredients; such as coconut, flour, eggs and sugar, thereby transforming them into “Khanom Thai” (Thai Desserts).

Matsaman and Karuma curries can be traced back to Persian dishes that came to Siam (Thailand) during the Ayutthaya period, as well.