Setting the Table: Thai Cutlery & Eating Style
Although the Chinese brought chopsticks to Thailand long ago, today most Thais prefer to use Western cutlery, though in their own special way. Thai cutlery generally consists of a fork and large spoon (tablespoon). The spoon is held in the right hand for scooping food into your mouth, and is also used for cutting (in place of a knife). The fork is held in your left hand and is used to push food onto your spoon. This is such a sensible way to eat that now my husband and I never eat any other way!
When eating, Thais do not combine various foods on their plates, but rather, they sample one dish at a time, always eaten with a mound of Thai fragrant rice on the side (unless the dish happens to be noodles). Encourage your guests to try this eating method, explaining that individual dishes may lose some of their appeal if eaten in combination.
Unless you have made appetizers, place all dishes on the table at the same time (in Thailand there is no such thing as separate courses.). Steamed rice can be set directly on the table in a covered bowl to keep warm, or the host may choose to serve guests from the rice pot or cooker.
Setting the Mood
When planning your table, think tropical. Start with a bright table-cloth and/or place-mats (you may even be able to find real Thai table dressings at import shops). A bamboo runner across the middle and length of the table adds visual appeal and is also a good place to put hot dishes (instead of pot holders).
And for a truly tropical experience, create this easy but beautiful centerpiece.
Lastly, try to find some Thai music to play in the background. If authentic Thai music cannot be found, a good substitute is music from Bali. You'll find that Indonesian music is particularly suitable for dinner-parties, as it is soft and atmospheric. ENJOY!